- Five University of California, Berkeley, faculty members
have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences,
while three others have been appointed investigators in the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC Berkeley.
new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) members are paleontologist
Tim White, professor of integrative biology and director of
UC Berkeley's Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies; Kenneth
A. Ribet, professor of mathematics; geneticist Barbara J.
Meyer, a professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
and an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
(HHMI) at UC Berkeley; Jean M. J. Fréchet, professor of chemistry;
and new foreign associate Reinhard Genzel, professor of physics
and also a director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische
Physik in Germany.
were among 60 new members and 15 associates announced last
week, bringing UC Berkeley's total membership in the academy
to 129, plus four foreign associates. The NAS is a private
organization of scientists and engineers who act as official
advisors to the federal government on matters of science and
HHMI investigators are Adam P. Arkin, an assistant professor
of bioengineering and chemistry and a staff scientist in the
Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory (LBNL); Carolyn R. Bertozzi, an associate professor
of chemistry and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow; and Eva Nogales,
an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology and a
staff scientist in the Life Sciences Division at LBNL.
were among 48 new investigators announced May 8 by the institute
in Chevy Chase, Md. UC Berkeley now has 10 HHMI investigators
on campus, including Carlos Bustamante, an investigator who
recently moved to UC Berkeley as a professor of biochemistry
and molecular biology. The institute is a medical research
organization that enters into long-term collaborations with
universities as a way of allowing faculty researchers to carry
out research with greater freedom and flexibility.
brief biographies of the new NAS members and HHMI investigators.
Academy of Sciences
specializes in human evolution and early human ancestors.
As a paleoanthropologist, he digs primarily in East Africa
- most recently in Ethiopia - and has made many significant
discoveries of early hominids. He was involved with the excavation
and description of the famed Lucy skeleton, and in 1992 discovered
the earliest known hominid species, a 4.4 million-year-old
denizen of the African forests. Just last year he reported
finding a new species of human ancestor and the earliest traces
of animal butchery. His studies of cannibalism in the American
Southwest and in Europe led him to the conclusion last year
that at least some Neanderthals were cannibals. White, who
obtained his PhD in 1977 from the University of Michigan,
has been on the UC Berkeley faculty since 1978.
J. Fréchet is involved in research spanning the disciplines
of organic, polymer and materials chemistry, with particular
focus on the design and synthesis of large molecules with
controlled shape, functionality and reactivity. These new
materials have potential applications in emerging technologies
such as nanoelectronics, data storage on a molecular scale,
energy storage, light harvesting or light emission, and other
areas. He holds some 50 patents for methods of synthesizing
chemicals. He obtained his PhD from Syracuse University in
1971 and joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996.
A. Ribet has worked on diverse questions in number theory
and arithmetical algebraic geometry. He is best known for
his proof that Taniyama's Conjecture implies Fermat's Last
Theorem. This breakthrough reduced the solution of this famous
problem to proving Taniyama's Conjecture, a feat achieved
in 1994 by Andrew Wiles of Princeton. Ribet obtained his PhD
from Harvard University in 1973 and has been at UC Berkeley
J. Meyer is interested in the molecular and genetic steps
that determine sex. Working with the nematode Caenorhabditis
elegans, she has sought the genes involved in determining
whether the creature becomes a male or a hermaphrodite. Her
broader goals are to understand basic issues in developmental
biology, such as how cells make choices between alternative
fates, how cells become committed to a particular fate, and
the molecular mechanisms by which a cascade of regulatory
genes controls developmental decisions. She obtained her PhD
degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard
University in 1979 and came to UC Berkeley as a full professor
Genzel is a prominent astrophysicist who investigates physical
processes in the nuclei of galaxies and studies star formation
and active nuclei in luminous distant galaxies. One of his
main research goals now is to determine whether the center
of the Milky Way galaxy contains a black hole. Genzel, who
served on the faculty from 1981 to 1986, returned last year
as a part-time faculty member to set up a new research effort
in experimental infrared astrophysics and to establish an
International Institute to foster scientific cooperation between
astrophysicists at UC Berkeley and the Max-Planck Society.
He obtained his PhD at the University of Bonn in 1978.
Hughes Medical Institute
Arkin specializes in the relatively new area of bioinformatics.
He is working on a detailed physical analysis of the biochemical
and genetic networks that govern cellular development. His
goal is to divine the engineering principles behind the control
systems that determine cell behavior and differentiation in
response to internal and external signals and to use these
principles to control and engineer cell and tissue systems.
He is active in the Berkeley Program in Genomics and is working
on expanding the curriculum and creating opportunities for
students in bioinformatics at UC Berkeley. Last year he received
a Technology Review Top 100 Innovative Young Scientist Award.
He obtained his PhD in physical chemistry from MIT in 1992
and was appointed to the UC Berkeley faculty last year.
R. Bertozzi works at the boundary between biology and chemistry,
investigating the role of sugar molecules on the surfaces
of cells. She concentrates on carbohydrates that have been
found on the surface of cells at sites of chronic inflammation,
a condition found in diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis
to inflammatory bowel disease. She also has found a trick
for getting cells to make non-natural sugars, with which the
cells then decorate their surfaces. The unnatural sugars can
be further modified with useful molecules, such as probes
that assist in the identification of cancerous cells. She
earned her PhD from UC Berkeley in 1993 and returned to join
the chemistry faculty in 1996.
Nogales de la Morena uses tools such as X-ray crystallography,
state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy and a relatively
new technique called single particle image analysis to investigate
the cytoskeleton of the cell. The cytoskeleton is a structure
that acts not only as internal support, but also helps regulate
the functioning of the cell. Using these techniques, she looks
at structural changes in tubulin, the building blocks of the
cytoskeleton, and its interaction with other proteins. Nogales
did her PhD work at the Synchrotron Radiation Source, Daresbury
Laboratory, England. She has been on the LBNL staff since
1993 and was appointed to the UC Berkeley faculty in 1998.