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Three Berkeley Professors Become Members of the National Academy of Sciences

posted July 15, 1998

Three faculty in the biological sciences were elected members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences earlier this year, bringing to 121 the total number of Berkeley faculty in the academy.

Brian Staskawicz, professor of plant and microbial biology in the College of Natural Resources, conducts research on the molecular genetics of plant disease resistance and was one of the first in the nation to clone and characterize a plant resistance gene. He received his Ph.D. from Cal in 1980 and has served on the faculty for 15 years. His previous honors include the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society and the USDA Honors Award, both received in 1995.

Michael S. Levine, professor of genetics in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, searches for genetic switches in fruit flies and sea squirts that tell embryonic cells whether to become

nerve cells, muscle cells or whatever. A Berkeley professor since 1996, he received the academy's award in molecular biology in 1996.

David Wake, professor of integrative biology and director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, is an expert on salamanders and frogs. He has worked behind the scenes for more than a decade to bring attention to the rapid decline of amphibian populations around the world. In May he met in Washington with several cabinet members, including Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, to discuss the problem. He hopes to encourage more research to find out why populations are collapsing, and to find ways to stop the extinctions.

Wake, who joined the Berkeley faculty in 1969, is former president of the American Society of Zoologists and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the California Academy of Science and the Linnean Society of London.

The three were among 60 new NAS members and 15 foreign associates honored for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

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