Obama to Give Medal of Freedom to Israeli-Born Professor

President Barack Obama will award an Israeli-American professor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this year, it was announced Thursday.

The White House announced that Daniel Kahneman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Princeton University and a Nobel laureate in economics, is one of 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Kahneman is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton and a professor emeritus of psychology and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

He was born in 1934 in Tel Aviv, received his bachelor's degree in psychology and mathematics from Hebrew University and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in 1961. Kahneman taught at Hebrew University from 1961 to 1978 and at the University of British Columbia from 1978 to 1986. From 1986 to 1994 he was a professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, Kahneman has won the Hilgard Award for Lifetime Contribution to General Psychology and the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. In 2011, he was named a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association. The American Psychological Association recognized him with its Lifetime Contribution Award in 2007.

"Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002,” said the White House in a statement released Thursday.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded for meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

In addition to Kahneman, Obama will present medals to, among others, former President Bill Clinton, television host Oprah Winfrey, women's rights leader Gloria Steinem and, posthumously, to Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye who passed away in December.

Last year, Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to President Shimon Peres. There were calls on Peres to refuse the Medal of Freedom from Obama because he refused Peres's request to free Jonathan Pollard, but the Israeli president chose to receive the medal anyway.

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