The Obama administration has chosen a professor from the University of Oregon to receive the nation’s highest scientific honor — according to the National Science Foundation.

Geri Richmond has been awarded the National Medal of Science.

Geri Richmond has been awarded the National Medal of Science.

University Of Oregon

Geri Richmond was about to get on a plane when she got an email saying she’d been awarded the National Medal of Science. “It was really exciting to get it, but I then couldn’t call anyone because I was on the plane. It was really very exciting. I’m honored. I’m just still in the awe part of awesome,” she said.

Richmond is an internationally renowned chemist who is researching how atmospheric pollutants might affect the weather and climate change.

The medal doesn’t come with any money, but she says there are other benefits. “It will help me a lot in things that I do in developing countries where I’ve been working with a lot of women scientists.”

Those scientists include researchers from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. They’ve been working along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, looking at the surface of water: how it reacts to oil and whether different detergents might be developed to clean it up.