Quoting Electrical Engineering Professor Thomas Kailath at the November 20th awards ceremony, President Obama said, "Scientists are intrinsically hopeful and believe in grand answers, and that if we work hard enough we can find some of them in our lifetime."
President Obama also spoke of the importance to encourage a culture of asking questions, discovery and innovation. He pointed out a common thread between the ten awardees was the influence of an encouraging parent or captivating teacher that whet their appetite at a young age. He drew parallels between America's diversity, infrastructure, and the unmatched opportunities at American universities to encourage new ideas which help to transform our world through new businesses and ventures.
President Obama referenced Professor Kailath's journey from India to Stanford as an example of the importance of welcoming scholars to America. Kailath joined Stanford's Electrical Engineering department in 1963, researching and teaching in several fields of engineering and mathematics, as well as mentoring more than 100 doctoral and postdoctoral students. The awards committee citation reads, "for transformative contributions to the fields of information and system science, for distinctive and sustained mentoring of young scholars, and for translation of scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures that have had a significant impact on industry."
"This is indeed a great honor for me, which I proudly share with my students and coauthors," Kailath said in an earlier interview. "I am also grateful for the remarkably supportive environment of the Electrical Engineering department and the University."