Somorjai named a Miller Senior Fellow

Veteran chemistry professor Gabor Somorjai is the second luminary selected for this prestigious fellowship.

21 January 2009

Gabor Somorjai, University Professor and professor of chemistry, has been named a Miller Senior Fellow by the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. The fellowship, which provides access to substantial discretionary research funding, is for a five-year period beginning July 1.

The Miller Institute initiated the Senior Fellow program last year, naming Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Randy Schekman as the first incumbent. (Praising Somorjai, Schekman called his selection "an obvious choice.") Somorjai, who has been on the Berkeley chemistry faculty since 1964, is also a faculty senior scientist and group leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"Gabor is a scientific powerhouse with a strong reputation of outstanding citizenry on campus and around the world," says Kathryn Day, executive director of the Miller Institute. She said he helped focus the science of materials surfaces on the molecular scale and transform it into the sophisticated discipline it is today.

Somorjai has been awarded an impressive number of honors, and has mentored some 120 Ph.D. students and 200 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom hold faculty positions or leadership roles in industry. "He nevertheless gives his time to many worthy service roles, here in Berkeley as well as nationally and internationally," Day notes.

Miller Senior Fellows play a leading role in mentoring young scientists who participate in other institute programs, and they contribute to "enhancement of the scientific life of the campus," says Day. Schekman concurred: "Participating in the activities of the Miller Fellows has exposed me to the broader sciences on campus in a way that I had not experienced in my time as a Cal faculty member."

More on the institute is online.