University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy has been appointed to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science by President Joe Biden.

The 16-member President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science evaluates nominees for the nation’s highest scientific honor. The National Medal of Science is a Presidential Award to recognize individuals for their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, social and behavioral sciences, according to a White House news release on the key appointment

Since its establishment, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to 506 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King applauded the appointment, noting that Ferrini-Mundy, a former senior official at the National Science Foundation who leads Maine’s only Carnegie R1 top-tier research institution, is “one of the most respected voices on the importance of STEM education.”

“During her time at the University of Maine, Dr. Ferrini-Mundy has worked to solidify the school as a global leader in education and research, and she has helped train a new generation of Maine scientists,” said Collins and King in a joint news release. “We congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition, and we know that she will be an immense asset to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.”

Ferrini-Mundy serves as president of UMaine and its regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias, and vice chancellor for research and innovation for the University of Maine System. Most recently under her leadership, UMaine achieved Carnegie R1 designation, joining the top 4 percent of the nation’s top-tier doctoral research universities.

“The appointment by President Biden to serve on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science is a distinct honor,” says Ferrini-Mundy. “The recognition of the importance, value and contributions of the sciences, in all their forms, reminds us of the difference they make in our lives and in society. The same is true of the arts and humanities. Together, they are critical to who we are and what we can become, and it’s important to recognize and appreciate people who advance them.”