UC Berkeley News


Celebrating Berkeley's blue ribbons, gold stars, and honorable mentions

12 March 2008

Imke de Pater, professor of astronomy, and Jack Lissauer, a theoretical astronomer at NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View, received the 2007 Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award from the American Astronomical Society for their advanced astronomy textbook - published, fittingly, in 2001 - Planetary Sciences. The award is given for "astronomy writing for an academic audience, specifically textbooks at either the upper-division undergraduate level or the graduate level." De Pater, who earned her doctorate in 1980 at Leiden University in the Netherlands, led a worldwide observation of Jupiter's radio emissions during the impact of comet D/Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994. She and Lissauer are currently working on a second edition of the textbook.

Martin Banks, professor of optometry and an adjunct professor of psychology, has been awarded the inaugural Kurt-Koffka medal by the Department of Psychology at Giessen University. The award, named for a pioneer of Gestalt psychology, is given to honor scientists who, in the organization's words, have "advanced the fields of perception or developmental psychology to an extraordinary extent." Banks, chair of the campus's Vision Science Program from 1995 to 2002, was honored for his numerous achievements in infant perception, depth perception, and related fields.

Lori Markson, of the Department of Psychology, has won the Prytanean Faculty Award, given annually to an outstanding female assistant professor at Berkeley. The prize recognizes scholarly achievement, a record as a distinguished teacher, and success as a role model for students, and comes with a grant of $15,000. Markson, whose research area is cognitive and social-cognitive development, will give a campus talk in April at the annual meeting of the 3,000-member alumnae group of the Prytanean Society, the oldest women's honor society at an American university.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appointed John Balmes, professor of environmental-health science at the School of Public Health, to the California Air Resources Board, part of the state Environmental Protection Agency. A pulmonary physician by training, professor of medicine at UCSF, and chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, Balmes also directs the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, a joint project of UC Berkeley, UCSF, and UC Davis.

Stephen Shortell (Peg Skorpinski photo)

And in what might be a trend, the governor has named the School of Public Health's dean, Stephen Shortell, to a four-year term on California's new 15-member Public Health Advisory Committee. Shortell, a professor of organization behavior and the Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management, will advise the director of the state Department of Public Health on emerging public-health issues, and recommend strategies to enhance the department's effectiveness.

The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has cited the Bancroft Library as a champion of the First Amendment, honoring it with a James Madison Award to recognize its "thorough documentation and archiving of the UC system's loyalty-oath controversy" during the anti-Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era. The chapter's Freedom of Information committee also awarded a special citation to the Chauncey Bailey Project, a team of reporters and editors from Bay Area outlets and journalism schools - including the Graduate School of Journalism - aimed at continuing the work of the Oakland Post editor killed while investigating Your Black Muslim Bakery. An awards dinner is scheduled for March 18 in San Francisco.

Vern Paxson, associate professor of computer science, has won the Association for Computer Machinery's 2007 Grace Murray Hopper Award in recognition of his "innovative techniques" for measuring Internet behavior. Paxson, whose current research focus includes network-intrusion detection and large-scale Internet attacks, is also a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He'll receive a $35,000 prize funded by Google Inc.

Seven "exceptional young researchers" from Berkeley are among 17 UC recipients of prestigious Alfred P. Sloan fellowships, joining a select group of scholars that includes 35 Nobel Prize winners since 1955. Fellows can use their two-year, $50,000 grants to pursue whatever lines of inquiry they choose. Berkeley's winners are: Sanjit Seshia, computer science; Yun Song, molecular biology; Noreddine El Karoui, mathematics; Feng Wang, physics; Diana Bautista, neuroscience; Stefano Della Vigna, economics; and Raj Chetty, economics.

Maxine Hong Kingston (Jane Scherr photo)
But some scholars are never satisfied. In addition to the Sloan fellowship, the 28-year-old Chetty, who joined the Berkeley faculty in 2003, was recently named the winner of The American magazine's 2008 Young Economist Award, for which the Searle Freedom Trust provides a research grant of $100,000. The magazine is published by the American Enterprise Institute.

And in the emeritus category. Novelist and Berkeley professor emerita Maxine Hong Kingston, whose honors include the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, has added another to her ever-growing collection. The Los Angeles Times announced recently that Kingston, famous for such books as The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts and Tripmaster Monkey, has won this year's Robert Kirsch Award. The prize "honors a living author with a connection to the American West whose works have made a substantial contribution to American letters," the Times reports.

Eric Kansa (Peg Skorpinski photo)
Also, emeritus professor Andrew Streitwieser, who had a long and distinguished academic career as a member of Berkeley's chemistry faculty, has been selected as a 2008 Senior Scientist Mentor by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The $20,000 award, one of 13 given by the nonprofit foundation this year, will support Streitwieser's research with undergraduates.

Eric Kansa, executive director of the Information and Service Design program at the School of Information, has been awarded a research fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities for his project "Cultural Heritage Collections in an Open Context." Kansa is a co-founder and former executive director of the Alexandria Archive Institute, where he led the development of Open Context, an online system for publishing collections and field research in archaeology and natural history.

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