22 January 2003 |

Walter Alvarez
The Geological Society of America has named Berkeley geologist Walter Alvarez as winner of the 2002 Penrose Medal. Established in 1927, the annual international medal is awarded “in recognition of eminent research in pure geology, for outstanding original contributions or achievements that mark a major advance in the science of geology.”

Professor Alvarez joined the Berkeley faculty in 1977. A prolific researcher and writer, he has been at the forefront of a revolution in geology “as important as the plate tectonic revolution of the 1960s,” said the society in its citation. The revolution it referred to is the study of the Earth’s place in space and how periodic catastrophic collisions between Earth and asteroids or comets have affected the evolution of Earth and its life.
“Walter Alvarez’s contributions have been of great importance in a number of fields, including Caribbean and Alpine-Mediterranean geology, structural geology, and magnetostratigraphy, and global impact events,” said the society. “His impact work has fundamentally changed the way we view the history of Earth and its life.”

Alvarez, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, also received the society’s G.K. Gilbert award. He was presented with the Penrose medal at the society’s annual meeting Oct. 27 in Colorado.

Ruth Hopper
Native American Studies adviser Ruth Hopper is one of eight Bay Area residents honored by KQED Public Broadcasting during the recent month-long celebration of American Indian heritage. Hopper and the other winners of the “local heroes award” were honored during a Nov. 12 ceremony at the station’s headquarters in San Francisco.

Francine Masiello
The Modern Language Association of America has announced the cowinners of its 12th annual Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for an outstanding book published in English in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures. Francine Masiello, Berkeley professor of comparative literature and Spanish, was named for her book “The Art of Transition: Latin American Culture and Neoliberal Crisis,” published by Duke University Press.

Masiello specializes in Spanish American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, gender theory, and comparative North-South cultures. In “The Art of Transition,” she draws on her wide-ranging knowledge of Argentine and Chilean literature and her mastery of critical theory to explore the development of literature and visual arts of the Southern Cone in the aftermath of dictatorship and within the neoliberal ethos.

This is the second time that Masiello has been named a cowinner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize. She also won in 1992 for “Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina.” The annual award — which consists of a certificate and $1,000 — was presented Dec. 28 during the association’s annual convention, held this year in New York.

The MLA is the largest and one of the oldest American learned societies in the humanities.

Martin Wachs
The National Acadamies’ Transportation Research Board has named Martin Wachs as winner of its 2002 W. N. Carey, Jr. Disting-uished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding leadership and service to transportation research and the board.

Wachs directs the campus’s Institute of Transportation Studies, one of the largest academic transportation-research centers in the country, and is a professor of city and regional planning and civil and environmental engineering. He has served the Transportation Research Board in varied capacities since the early 1970s and has been on its executive committee since 1995.

In announcing the honor, the board said of Wachs: “Known for his integrity and his thoughtful, consensus-oriented leadership, he has been a particularly effective mentor and role model. At TRB he has place special emphasis on reaching out to groups that historically have been under-represented in the board’s activities.”

Wach is currently on sabbatical, working as a visiting scholar at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C. He receives the Carey award this week at the transportation board’s 82nd annual meeting, also in the nation’s capital.

Ronald Yeung
Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ronald Yeung has been named the 25th Georg Weinblum Memorial Lecturer (2002-03), in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of marine hydrodynamics during his career in education and scientific research.

The memorial lecture is presented each year by an internationally recognized authority. It is sponsored in Germany by Institut fur Schiffbau of the University of Hamburg, and in the United States by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and the Naval Studies Board of the National Research Council.

Yeung presented his research lecture on Nov. 20 in Hamburg, Germany, and will offer a repeat lecture in March 2003 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Berkeley postdoc wins Collegiate Inventors Competition
Six projects by collegiate inventors and researchers — including one from Berkeley — were selected recently in a national collegiate inventors competition. Hosted by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, an Ohio-based non-profit organization, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is the largest collegiate competition of its kind. It solicits entries from more than 900 college and university campuses across the country for the annual competition. Students may enter as teams or individuals. This year, the competition received nearly 200 entries, from which 16 finalists were chosen.

The winners included Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Lei Wang, for his “Genetically Encoded Amino Acid,” a new technique for modifying bacteria so that they produce amino acids never before found in nature. “The approach,” said the Hall of Fame, in announcing the winners, “may open up broad avenues of research and enable the manufacture of new, useful proteins for research and pharmaceutical applications.” Wang received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at China’s Peking University, and his PhD this year at Berkeley in bio-organic chemistry.

The other winners came from the University of Michigan, MIT, Harvard University, UCSF, and Johns Hopkins University. Inventions were selected based on the originality, inventiveness, potential value to society and the range or scope of use of their invention. Each winner takes home a $20,000 cash award, plus $10,000 for the advisers involved.

Finalists traveled to New York City to defend their inventions before an eight-member panel of judges. Finalists and winners were recognized Nov. 14 in a ceremony at the New York City Public Library.


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