(Ryan K Morris/National Science & Technology Medals Foundation)
The medal is the highest honor bestowed by the country to scientists, a news release said.
Hawthorne is the director of the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine at University of Missouri, as well as Curators' Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Radiology.
Hawthorne was named a National Medal of Science recipient because of his work on the chemical element, boron. He developed the use of a technique known as Boron Neutron Capture Therapy, which is used in experimental treatments for cancer, arthritis and other diseases. His work with boron also has been used to fight heart disease and Alzheimer's. He pioneered the use of "boron cages," chemical structures that can be attached to other compounds and thereby change their physical properties.
According to a story on the University of Missouri website, Obama made the announcement about Hawthorne in December.
Hawthorne has been at MU since 2006 and was one of 12 National Medal of Science honorees, the story said.
"I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators," Obama said in a December news release, the story said. "They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this nation great, and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment."
Chancellor Brady J. Deaton said Hawthorne helped advance the university's national leadership in nanomedicine and cancer research.
"This acknowledgment by President Obama of Dr. Hawthorne's work is especially gratifying and well deserved," Deaton said on the website.
MU's International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine was created largely to facilitate Hawthorne's research. Besides studies on boron, the institute focuses on applications of nanotechnology in medicine, engineering microscopic motors, inventing methods to store hydrogen fuel and designing materials to store energy.
Hawthorne was a researcher at the University of California--Los Angeles before coming to MU, the site said. He gave three reasons for choosing to come to Columbia.
Hawthorne said in the MU story that Mizzou is one of a small number of universities "in the United States with a large number of science disciplines and humanities on the same campus," Hawthorne said.
"Second, the largest university research nuclear reactor is located at MU. Finally, it has very strong, collegial biomedicine departments. This combination is unique," he said the story.
Following is a list of the recipients of the National Medal of Science, according to the NBC.com website:
*Chemist Allen Bard, of the University of Texas at Austin, who pioneered the development of the scanning electrochemical microscope, which can be used to identify cancerous cells, the site said.
* Sallie Chisholm, a biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the ecology and evolution of microbes in the ocean, the site said.
* Sidney Drell, a Stanford University theoretical physicist and arms control specialist, who has advised the government on national security and defense, the site said.
* Sandra Faber, a University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomer who was part of the team that discovered the "great attractor," a huge concentration of galaxies and invisible matter that seems to tug at our Milky Way galaxy.
* James Gates, physics professor and string theorist at the University of Maryland, the site said.
* Mathematician Solomon Golomb, of the University of Southern California, noted for coining the term "polyominoes" (the geometric figures that eventually inspired the computer game Tetris), the site said.
* John Goodenough, a physicist and materials scientist of University of Texas at Austin, whose research led to the development of lithium-ion batteries, NBC.com said.
* Leroy Hood, of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, whose work helped make mapping the human genome possible, NBC.com said.
* Harvard mathematician and number theorist Barry Mazur, NBC.com said.
* Stanford researcher Lucy Shapiro, whose discovery that the bacterial cell is controlled by an integrated genetic circuit functioning serves as a model for cell differentiation and the generation of diversity in all organisms, NBC.com said.
* Princeton University Anne Treisman of Princeton University, who has studied attentional limits in the human mind and brain, NBC.com reported.