The California Alumni Association has named Professor Marian Diamond its alumna of the year for 1995.
A world-renowned expert in the anatomy and physiology of the brain, Diamond has taught at Berkeley since 1960 and served as director of the campus's Lawrence Hall of Science for the last five years. She is best known for her findings that the brain can continue to develop at any age and that male and female brains are structurally different.
Diamond will be the guest of honor at the association's annual charter banquet April 12.
The "Alumnus of the Year" designation was first given in 1943 to pioneer aviator Jimmy Doolittle. Other recipients include Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Defense Secretary Robert Mc-Namara, economist John Kenneth Galbraith and author Joan Didion. Diamond is the 53rd Berkeley graduate to win the distinction.
One of Diamond's major discoveries--that with proper stimulation the brain can continue to develop at any age--has revolutionized thinking about aging by emphasizing the importance of growth and learning throughout life.
A second and equally significant finding to come out of Diamond's lab is that male and female brains are structured differently.
"The male brain, with its right-sided advantage in cortical thickness, may be specialized for certain visual-spatial tasks such as protecting territory and finding a female," Diamond explains. "The female cortex, with apparently equivalent cortical power on both sides, may be more appropriate for the broader range of activities included in nurturing and protecting the young."
Through her recent work at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Diamond was able to use her findings on enriched environments to develop educational programs in science and mathematics for students in preschool through high school.
Diamond arrived at Berkeley in 1946 as a transfer student and stayed to earn a BA in 1948, an MA in 1949 and a PhD in neuroanatomy in 1953. In 1960, after a stint of teaching at Cornell and UCSF, she returned to Berkeley and she has been here ever since.