Bower Award And Prize For Achievement In Science

The 2020 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science 

Theme: Neural Networks for Machine Learning

Prize: $250,000 USD

Deadline for Submissions: May 31, 2019

The Franklin Institute seeks nominations for the 2020 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science of individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of neural networks for machine learning—hardware or software systems designed as networks of artificial neurons that can be given raw data and trained to automatically discover abstract features that are relevant to detection, classification, or translation, resulting in desired outputs. Inputs could include text (machine translation), audio (speech recognition), or imagery (face recognition, scene understanding, photo sorting, image synthesis). Outputs could include categorical labels, structured outputs, or actuator commands. Such artificial neural networks have yielded effective approaches to solving a wide spectrum of challenging practical problems resistant to solution using earlier algorithmic machine learning techniques.

Nominations are encouraged in, but not limited to, the following subtopics:

  • Network architectures: layered, recurrent, self-organizing, convolutional, long short-term memory, auto encoders, deep networks

  • Training or learning methods: cooperative, competitive, back propagation of errors, supervised, unsupervised, reinforcement, adaptive resonance, generative adversarial

  • Network implementation: analog, digital, stochastic, energy-efficient, hardware-accelerated

  • Broad applications: speech recognition, language translation, face recognition, scene understanding, photo sorting, reading print or handwriting, medical image diagnosis, autonomous vehicles, drug delivery design, question answering, web searches, game playing

Nominations should clearly indicate the scientific impact—innovative, technical, and/or conceptual—and, when applicable, the societal impact of the nominee’s work.


  • This is an international competition for individuals who have made significant contributions to neural networks for machine learning. 

  • This award and prize must be presented to an individual, as specified by the will of Henry Bower.

  • Candidates must be living, and the winner must participate in The Franklin Institute Awards Week programs, to be held in April 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

  • Nominations from any individual or organization will be accepted, including self-nominations.

Nomination Procedure:

Nominations must be submitted in English and must include:

  • Name and contact information of nominee 

  • Name and contact information of nominator

  • Nominee’s curriculum vitae and bibliography of significant and relevant publications

  • Proposed citation of 50 words or fewer, highlighting the achievement(s) for which the candidate is nominated

  • Narrative statement describing the nominee’s qualifications for the award

  • Four confidential letters of support requested by the nominator, sent directly to The Franklin Institute Awards Office

  • Deadline for completed nominations is May 31, 2019

All nominations and supporting letters should be mailed or emailed to:

Beth Scheraga
Director, The Franklin Institute Awards
The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1194


The Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, along with the Bower Award for Business Leadership, was established in 1990 through a bequest from Philadelphia chemical manufacturer and philanthropist Henry Bower (1896–1988), the grandson of a 19th century Franklin Institute laureate. The award, 14k gold medal, and cash prize of $250,000 are presented annually to a distinguished member of the international scientific community for work in a prescribed discipline that changes each year. In addition to the Bower Awards, The Franklin Institute presents Benjamin Franklin Medals in chemistry, civil and mechanical engineering, computer and cognitive science, earth and environmental science, electrical engineering, life science, and physics. 

The Franklin Institute Awards celebrates pioneering achievements in science, engineering, and industry and the brilliant people from across the globe who make them. As the oldest science and technology awards program in the U.S., we honor the legacy of our namesake, Benjamin Franklin—America’s first great scientist and an inventor and statesman whose impact can be seen all around us today. Since 1824, we have recognized more than 2,000 of the most world-changing scientists, engineers, inventors, and industrialists—all of whom reflect Franklin’s spirit of curiosity, ingenuity, and innovation. Our roster includes Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Marie and Pierre Curie, Orville Wright, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Claude Elwood Shannon, Ruth Patrick, Marcian Hoff, Jr., Stephen Hawking, Ralph Cicerone, John Mather, Marvin Minsky, Bernard Widrow, Gordon Moore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Blackburn, Andrew Viterbi, Bill Gates, Dean Kamen, Frances Arnold, and John Hopfield.