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Blue ribbons, gold stars, honorable mentions

11 June 2009

A trio of Berkeley faculty from a range of academic disciplines have been elected to the American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 to promote the sciences and humanities.

The new members are Anthony Long, professor of classics and the Irving Stone Professor of Literature; Robert Tjian, professor of molecular and cell biology and president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and James Valentine, professor emeritus of integrative biology and faculty curator emeritus of the Museum of Paleontology.

The three were among 35 new members elected at the society's spring meeting in Philadelphia, a class that included composer Philip Glass, pianist Emanuel Ax, businessman Warren Buffett, playwright A. R. Gurney, former U.S. secretary of health and human services Donna Shalala, and financier George Soros.

Loan Dao, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies, received this year's Thomas I. Yamashita Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding social-change activist in Northern California. Loan, whose family came to the U.S. as refugees from Vietnam, has a long history of involvement with organizations offering support for Southeast Asian communities, and helped form the Southeast Asian Freedom Network. She recently co-produced a full-length documentary on Versailles, a community in eastern New Orleans that was first settled by Vietnamese refugees and later ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Chemical-engineering professor Jay Keasling who also serves as Berkeley Lab's acting deputy director and CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville has been awarded the Biotechnology Industry Organization's first annual Biotech Humanitarian Award. Keasling, a pioneer in synthetic biology, was recognized for developing a simple, inexpensive means of making the anti-malaria drug artemisinin in a lab.

The Underhill Field and Parking Structure has been recognized as the top project in North America by the International Parking Institute, which gave the innovative four-story complex its highest honor, the 2009 Award of Excellence. The structure, on College Avenue between Channing Way and Haste Street, integrates generous open green space with a surrounding environment of densely populated dormitories and apartment buildings. The project also received honorable mention for architecture.

On the communications and fundraising fronts, Berkeley walked away with a number of 2009 awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, better known as CASE. University Relations' Development Communications staff won a gold medal in the category of institution-wide branding programs for the "" program, and the "grand gold" for fundraising packages for its "Thanks to Berkeley...." campaign. The Haas School of Business Alumni Relations and Development office took the silver in the category of fundraising-publications packages. And Public Affairs' Media Relations unit won a silver medal for excellence in research, medicine, and science writing and a bronze for general news writing.