Click here to bypass page layout and jump directly to story.=

UC Berkeley >

University of California

News - Media Relations






  Press Releases

  Image Downloads



UC Berkeley faculty receive big honors: five elected to National Academy of Sciences; three appointed HHMI investigators
11 May 2000

By Robert Sanders , Media Relations

Berkeley - Five University of California, Berkeley, faculty members have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, while three others have been appointed investigators in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC Berkeley.

The five new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) members are paleontologist Tim White, professor of integrative biology and director of UC Berkeley's Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies; Kenneth A. Ribet, professor of mathematics; geneticist Barbara J. Meyer, a professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at UC Berkeley; Jean M. J. Fréchet, professor of chemistry; and new foreign associate Reinhard Genzel, professor of physics and also a director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Germany.

The five were among 60 new members and 15 associates announced last week, bringing UC Berkeley's total membership in the academy to 129, plus four foreign associates. The NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers who act as official advisors to the federal government on matters of science and technology.

The new HHMI investigators are Adam P. Arkin, an assistant professor of bioengineering and chemistry and a staff scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Carolyn R. Bertozzi, an associate professor of chemistry and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow; and Eva Nogales, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology and a staff scientist in the Life Sciences Division at LBNL.

The three were among 48 new investigators announced May 8 by the institute in Chevy Chase, Md. UC Berkeley now has 10 HHMI investigators on campus, including Carlos Bustamante, an investigator who recently moved to UC Berkeley as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. The institute is a medical research organization that enters into long-term collaborations with universities as a way of allowing faculty researchers to carry out research with greater freedom and flexibility.

Below are brief biographies of the new NAS members and HHMI investigators.

National Academy of Sciences

Tim White specializes in human evolution and early human ancestors. As a paleoanthropologist, he digs primarily in East Africa - most recently in Ethiopia - and has made many significant discoveries of early hominids. He was involved with the excavation and description of the famed Lucy skeleton, and in 1992 discovered the earliest known hominid species, a 4.4 million-year-old denizen of the African forests. Just last year he reported finding a new species of human ancestor and the earliest traces of animal butchery. His studies of cannibalism in the American Southwest and in Europe led him to the conclusion last year that at least some Neanderthals were cannibals. White, who obtained his PhD in 1977 from the University of Michigan, has been on the UC Berkeley faculty since 1978.

Jean M. J. Fréchet is involved in research spanning the disciplines of organic, polymer and materials chemistry, with particular focus on the design and synthesis of large molecules with controlled shape, functionality and reactivity. These new materials have potential applications in emerging technologies such as nanoelectronics, data storage on a molecular scale, energy storage, light harvesting or light emission, and other areas. He holds some 50 patents for methods of synthesizing chemicals. He obtained his PhD from Syracuse University in 1971 and joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996.

Kenneth A. Ribet has worked on diverse questions in number theory and arithmetical algebraic geometry. He is best known for his proof that Taniyama's Conjecture implies Fermat's Last Theorem. This breakthrough reduced the solution of this famous problem to proving Taniyama's Conjecture, a feat achieved in 1994 by Andrew Wiles of Princeton. Ribet obtained his PhD from Harvard University in 1973 and has been at UC Berkeley since 1978.

Barbara J. Meyer is interested in the molecular and genetic steps that determine sex. Working with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, she has sought the genes involved in determining whether the creature becomes a male or a hermaphrodite. Her broader goals are to understand basic issues in developmental biology, such as how cells make choices between alternative fates, how cells become committed to a particular fate, and the molecular mechanisms by which a cascade of regulatory genes controls developmental decisions. She obtained her PhD degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1979 and came to UC Berkeley as a full professor in 1990.

Reinhard Genzel is a prominent astrophysicist who investigates physical processes in the nuclei of galaxies and studies star formation and active nuclei in luminous distant galaxies. One of his main research goals now is to determine whether the center of the Milky Way galaxy contains a black hole. Genzel, who served on the faculty from 1981 to 1986, returned last year as a part-time faculty member to set up a new research effort in experimental infrared astrophysics and to establish an International Institute to foster scientific cooperation between astrophysicists at UC Berkeley and the Max-Planck Society. He obtained his PhD at the University of Bonn in 1978.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Adam P. Arkin specializes in the relatively new area of bioinformatics. He is working on a detailed physical analysis of the biochemical and genetic networks that govern cellular development. His goal is to divine the engineering principles behind the control systems that determine cell behavior and differentiation in response to internal and external signals and to use these principles to control and engineer cell and tissue systems. He is active in the Berkeley Program in Genomics and is working on expanding the curriculum and creating opportunities for students in bioinformatics at UC Berkeley. Last year he received a Technology Review Top 100 Innovative Young Scientist Award. He obtained his PhD in physical chemistry from MIT in 1992 and was appointed to the UC Berkeley faculty last year.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi works at the boundary between biology and chemistry, investigating the role of sugar molecules on the surfaces of cells. She concentrates on carbohydrates that have been found on the surface of cells at sites of chronic inflammation, a condition found in diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease. She also has found a trick for getting cells to make non-natural sugars, with which the cells then decorate their surfaces. The unnatural sugars can be further modified with useful molecules, such as probes that assist in the identification of cancerous cells. She earned her PhD from UC Berkeley in 1993 and returned to join the chemistry faculty in 1996.

Evangelina Nogales de la Morena uses tools such as X-ray crystallography, state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy and a relatively new technique called single particle image analysis to investigate the cytoskeleton of the cell. The cytoskeleton is a structure that acts not only as internal support, but also helps regulate the functioning of the cell. Using these techniques, she looks at structural changes in tubulin, the building blocks of the cytoskeleton, and its interaction with other proteins. Nogales did her PhD work at the Synchrotron Radiation Source, Daresbury Laboratory, England. She has been on the LBNL staff since 1993 and was appointed to the UC Berkeley faculty in 1998.



UC Berkeley | News | Archives | Extras | Media Relations

Comments? E-mail

Copyright 2000 UC Regents. All rights reserved.