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Biz Prof. Honored for Furthering Public Understanding of Technology


Assistant Professor Moira Gunn of the University of San Francisco’s School of Business and Professional Studies is the winner of the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for 2011.

The creator of the public radio programs Tech Nation and BioTech Nation, Gunn’s expertise in science, engineering, education, and broadcast media has helped many laymen understand technology by interweaving scientific concepts into mainstream interviews and commentaries.

“She receives the award for her far-reaching contributions to increasing the public understanding of science and engineering,” according to the National Science Board.

The NSB, an independent federal agency that supports research and education across all fields of science and engineering, awards the Public Service Award to one individual and one group (company, corporation, organization) each year. The award honors those who have made substantial contributions to the public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. Contributions may be in a wide variety of areas, including mass media, education and/or training programs, entertainment, and more.

Gunn, a USF alumna in computer science, went on to become the first woman to graduate with a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. She worked on global modeling and robotics engineering at NASA and developed a patent in human nutrition measurement for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gunn began teaching at USF in 1979 and is the managing director of biotechnology programs in the School of Business and Professional Studies.

“When I read the official press release, I couldn't believe it,” Gunn said, referring to the moment she learned of the award. “And a black tie dinner at the U.S. State Department? Are you kidding me?”

Expected in attendance at the May 10 awards dinner in Washington D.C., are Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and Kingsley Smith, program director, NPR Worldwide and NPR Sirius Satellite Radio channels.

Winning the award for Tech Nation is particularly meaningful since the program was conceived of and “built out of whole cloth” right here at USF and went against the recommendations of a number of people, Gunn said.

The program, originally dubbed People and Technology, first aired on USF’s radio station, KUSF, before making the jump to NPR syndication.” It came to me while I was standing in the parking lot next to the University Center during a conversation with a colleague,” Gunn said. “The rest… is history.”

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu