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Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research

Research Medal Award Winner

James B. Nation, headshot

James B. Nation

James B. Nation, a mathematics professor, has earned a truly international reputation for the depth of his insight into lattice theory.

Mathematicians gain fame by solving well-known open problems whose difficulty has left them unresolved for many years, by opening up important new areas of research, or by breakthrough advances in well-established areas. Nation has managed to do all three. He created the field of congruence varieties, now regarded as a central part of lattice theory and universal algebra.

Nation went on to one of his most famous feats, the solution of the Jónsson conjecture; he was able to prove the correctness of an elegant characterization of the class of free lattices. This problem had defied the efforts of the lattice theory community for approximately 20 years. Another 20-year-old problem, the finite height conjecture, was his next remarkable achievement. Here Nation astonished the mathematical world by showing the conjecture, almost universally believed true, was in fact, false.

Nation’s contributions have had significant impact, not only in the broad area of mathematics, but also in such areas as theoretical computer science.

The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded by the Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community. The board also awards the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching.

Select a recipient for more about that individual.

Current awardees and links to archives.


Milton Garces, headshot
Milton Garces
Geophysics and planetology
Albert Kim, headshot
Albert Kim
Civil and environmental engineering
Tobias Owen, headshot
Tobias Owen


Bruce Chorpita, headshot
Bruce Chorpita
Ho-min Sohn, headshot
Ho-min Sohn
Korean language
Paul Lucey, headshot
Paul Lucey
Geophysics and planetology


Alexander Krot, headshot
Alexander Krot
Geophysics and planetology
John L. Tonry, headshot
John L. Tonry


Andrew Harris, headshot
Andrew Harris
Laurence N. Kolonel, headshot
Laurence N. Kolonel
Cancer epidemiology
James B. Nation, headshot
James B. Nation


Margaret McFall-Ngai, headshot
Margaret McFall-Ngai
Marine organisms
Stephen Olsen, headshot
Stephen Olsen
High energy physics
 Edward Ruby, headshot
Edward Ruby
Marine organisms