Since 1993, the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics has presented the Townes Award honoring individuals, businesses or institutions that have gone beyond the basic requirements of their professional positions to raise the quality of science, mathematics and technology education in South Carolina. Past winners have hailed from academic, business and political sectors.

Dr. Charles H. Townes (1915-2015) was a native South Carolinian, Furman graduate and Nobel Laureate in physics. In 1964, Dr. Townes received the Nobel Prize for his work in quantum electronics leading to the invention of the laser. This breakthrough revolutionized not only science, but also our everyday lives. The laser now is a ubiquitous part of the modern landscape in everything from supermarket bar code scanners to compact disc players, as well as surgery, fiber optic communication, laser printers and weapons guidance systems.

Past Townes Award Recipients
1993 - The Honorable Carroll A. Campbell Jr. and Mr. Charles W. Coker
1994 - Dr. John R. Carpenter and Dr. Doris R. Helms
1995 - Professor Elizabeth M. Martin
1996 - Dr. Walter D. Smith
1997 - Mr. Fred Sheheen
1998 - Dr. Peggy W. Cain
1999 - Mr. Roger Milliken and Dr. Ruth Patrick
2000 - Mr. Rudy Mancke and Dr. John Michener
2001 - Dr. Larry A. Jackson
2002 - The Honorable Richard W. Riley
2003 - Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr.
2004 - South Carolina's Three Research Universities:
Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina
2005 - The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
2006 - Mr. Don Herriott
2007 - The Honorable Robert W. Harrell, Jr.
2008 - Mr. Steve Swanson
2009 - Mr. Harris E. DeLoach
2010 - Ms. Darla Moore
2011 - The Honorable Hugh K. Leatherman
2012 - Mr. M. Edward Sellers
2013 - University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
2014 - Mr. Jim Barker
2015 - The Honorable Lindsey GrahamĀ 
2016 - Milliken & Company
2017 - The Honorable Nikki R. Haley, the SC Department of Commerce and Team South Carolina