Sidebar: 1997's Roll Call of Honor

As colleges and universities the world over honored their graduates in commencement ceremonies this spring, many also chose to celebrate the work of noted scientists by presenting them with honorary degrees. Among the researchers accepting such honors were a former surgeon general of the United States, the "father" of the birth control pill, and a victim of a Unabomber attack. Some distinguished scientists were further honored by being asked to speak at graduation ceremonies. In general, the messages of those who spoke were straightforward: They urged graduates to work on what they believe is important and on what they enjoy.

Many encouraged their audience to accept new challenges. Nobel laureate Peter C. Doherty, who holds the Michael F. Tamer Chair in Biomedical Research at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., told Tufts University medical school graduates to anticipate being "called on to...

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