SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

2001 Winifred Sewell Prize

Eugene Garfield

Dr. Eugene Garfield is known internationally as the exemplar of information scientists. He is also known to us as a member of the Biomedical and Life Sciences Division of SLA who has contributed substantially to its electronic discussion list.

The facts of his career are straightforward. His education includes a B.S. in Chemistry and an M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University, culminating in a Ph.D. in Structural Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. Before he embarked on his graduate studies, Gene had discovered information science through the Chemical Literature Division at the American Chemical Society's Diamond Jubilee and found employment with the Welch Medical Library Indexing Project from 1951 to 1953. In 1954, he went to Philadelphia and established Eugene Garfield Associates, which became the Institute for Scientific Information, Inc., in 1960. From its inception until 1992, he was its President and Chief Executive Officer, becoming Chairman Emeritus in 1993. In 1986 he established a scientific newspaper The Scientist. He is still its President and Editor-in-Chief.

Since 1954, when he became his own boss, his straightforward career contrasts with his contributions to information technology that cannot be encompassed in a few paragraphs. The Web of Knowledge, a Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield, published for his 75th birthday on September 26, 2000, showcases the Science Citation Index, as the most important among Gene's many contributions to innovation in information science. Indeed, through it, he caused an order of magnitude change in the history and sociology of science and established the field of scientometrics. Even more important, he enabled advancement of science through much improved access to its records.

Among his many other contributions to scientists, the two thrusts highlighted here are immediate awareness of new developments and education in use of information technology.

In 1958 he developed the alerting service Current Contents of Chemical, Pharmaco-Medical & Life Sciences. Though contents publications were already well known, thanks to Gene's persistence, the marketplace gave this product credibility. It led to a splitting off of specialized contents publications as well as providing the resources and experience with computerized manipulation of bibliographic records that supported subsequent innovation. Gene's major current occupation, The Scientist, emphasizes his commitment to alerting the scientist to major developments through the newspaper format.

Along with his speaking engagements and other publications, The Scientist also demonstrates Gene's commitment of promoting to and educating others about new information technologies. With the inclusion of his essays, begun in 1960 as Current Comments, published in Current Contents, and gathered in Essays of an Information Scientist, Eugene has become a major emissary for information technology innovations to the scientist.

Eugene has been a member of an eclectic group of professional societies. Besides the Special Libraries Association, just a few are American Chemical Society, History of Science Society, International Federation of Science Editors, Medical Library Association, Society for Social Studies in Science, and International Science Policy Foundation. He is a Past President of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Past President and Board Chairman of the Information Industry Association, and past Chairman of the Information, Computing & Communications Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Again, one can highlight just a few of his many awards between a Grolier Society fellowship at Columbia University in 1953-54 and 1999's Avenue of Technology Award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of technology. They include honorary doctorates from Vrije University in Brussels, the University of Rome, and Charles University in the Czech Republic as well as the State University of New York and Thomas Jefferson University. From the American Chemical Society, he received the Herman Skolnik Award in 1977 and the Patterson-Crane Award in 1983. Other honors have been the 1983 John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Derek J. de Solla Price Memorial Medal from Scientometrics in 1983, and the John Scott Award from the City of Philadelphia in1987.

The addition to the list of awards to Eugene Garfield of the Winifred Sewell Prize for Innovations in Information Technology in the Biological and Life Sciences will bring honor to the prize as well as to the recipient.

Rev. July 2007