UC Berkeley News


 Prytanean award winners
From left: Eden Hass, president of Prytanean Alumnae; Professor Lori Markson, Prytanean Faculty Award winner for 2007; Joan Finnie, chair, Prytanean award committee; Mary Catherine Birgeneau; and new winner Chelsea Specht.

Blue ribbons, gold stars, honorable mentions

11 September 2008

Chelsea Specht, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, was named the winner of the 2008 Prytanean Faculty Award, given annually by the women’s honor organization founded on the Berkeley campus in 1901. The award, which comes with a financial grant of $25,000, goes to an outstanding woman junior-faculty member who “has demonstrated scholarly achievement, a record as a distinguished teacher, and success as a role model for students at UC Berkeley.” Specht, a former Fulbright Research and National Science Foundation fellow, specializes in the study of the processes and patterns involved in the evolution and diversification of plants.

For his pioneering work in nuclear magnetic-resonance spectroscopy — and particularly a breakthrough he made as a graduate student at MIT in the early 1970s — Alex Pines has been awarded the 2008 Russell Varian Prize, given annually for a single innovative contribution that has proved to be of “high and broad impact on state-of-the-art NMR technology.” Now the campus’s Glenn T. Seaborg Professor of Chemistry and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pines devised a way to perform high-resolution NMR on solids, and co-authored a note and paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics that laid the groundwork for the field of solid-state NMR.

Roberta Park, a professor emerita in the Department of Integrative Biology, recently delivered England’s prestigious Sir Derek Birley Annual Memorial Lecture. Park, a former chair of Cal’s Department of Physical Education and one-time assistant coach, spoke at the 2008 Conference of the British Society of Sports History on the topic “Physicians, Scientists, Exercise, and Athletes in Britain and America from the 1867 Boat Race to the Four-Minute Mile.”

A pair of University Health Services staffers have won awards from the Institute for Medical Quality, a subsidiary of the California Medical Association dedicated to improving the quality of patient care. The organization’s Samuel R. Sherman Award this year went to Pam Cameron, UHS assistant clinical-services director, for coordinating the Depression Management Quality Improvement Initiative, a multi-year, multidisciplinary project to upgrade the overall clinical evaluation and management of depression. Sue Watz, the coordinator of continuing medical education at UHS, received the 2008 Outstanding CME Coordinator of the Year Award from the nonprofit institute, which cited her “leadership skills” and noted that “her wealth of technical skills have been used to expand access to CME on the UHS intranet, including offering a database of lectures and speakers as well as challenging cases for expanded learning opportunities.”

Tor Brekke, a professor emeritus of geological engineering who joined the Berkeley faculty in 1976, has received the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration’s Outstanding Educator Award in recognition of his exceptional contributions and dedication to the nation’s underground-construction industry. Brekke, whose research interests included gas storage in excavated caverns, geological engineering, pressure tunnels and shafts, and tunneling, is an author or co-author of 85 publications, and was elected in 1977 to the Royal Swedish Academy of Technological Sciences.

Kathleen Kawelu, who earned her Ph.D. at Berkeley in 2007 with a degree in anthropology and a specialization in archaeology, is one of five Hawaiian scholars selected as the first cohort of the Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows. She received one of three $50,000 postdoctoral fellowships awarded on the basis of candidates’ “leadership potential and their demonstrated commitment to the advancement of scholarship on Hawaiian cultural and natural environments, or Hawaiian history, politics, and society.” A native Hawaiian, Kawelu recently returned to Hilo, where, upon completion of the Mellon-Hawaii program, she will begin an assistant professorship at the University of Hawaii.

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