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Hubbard Medal


The Hubbard Medal, often called National Geographic’s highest honor, recognizes lifetime achievement in research, discovery, and exploration. This prestigious award was first presented to explorer Robert E. Peary in 1906, and other distinguished awardees have included astronaut John Glenn; aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart; Matthew Alexander Henson, the first African-American Arctic explorer; renowned marine archaeologist Bob Ballard; influential paleontologist Meave Leakey; and groundbreaking primatologist Jane Goodall.

2017 Awardee: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Picture of Neil deGrasse Tyson
Photograph by National Geographic/Miller Mobley

Astrophysicist, author, and television personality Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City, and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. He earned his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson was twice appointed by President Bush to serve on commissions on aerospace and space exploration, and eventually tapped to serve on NASA’s prestigious Advisory Council. Tyson is the recipient of twenty honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given to a nongovernment citizen, and the International Astronomical Union recognized him in their naming of asteroid 13123 Tyson.