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Three UC Berkeley faculty members honored today by election to National Academy of Sciences
30 April 2002

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley - Three faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley, have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, bringing the total number of NAS members at UC Berkeley to 122.

The three are among 72 new members and 15 foreign associates announced today (Tuesday, April 30) by the academy. One of the highest honors for a U.S scientist or engineer, membership in the academy is a recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Those elected today bring the total number of active NAS members nationwide to 1,907, plus 330 foreign associates.

The new UC Berkeley members are:

* Carlos J. Bustamante, professor of molecular and cell biology and of physics, and an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC Berkeley. Bustamante, a biophysicist who works also in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's physical biosciences division, applies cutting-edge technologies to understand the folding of biological molecules. Among his many interests are tiny biological machines inside the cell that copy DNA and read the genetic code to construct proteins. The toolbox he uses to probe these machines includes atomic force microscopy and optical tweezers, a laser-driven device capable of picking up individual molecules.

* Charles B. Harris, professor of chemistry. Harris uses extremely fast, pulsed visible and infrared lasers to study chemical reactions on a time scale of femtoseconds, that is, one quadrillionth - one millionth of a billionth - of a second. His particular interest is how electrons move about on a surface or interface between two materials, and the detailed reactions occurring when a chemical is dissolved in a liquid.

* Geoffrey W. Marcy, professor of astronomy and director of the Center for Integrative Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. Marcy and colleague Paul Butler, who is now at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, pioneered the search for planets beyond our solar system, and to date have discovered the majority of the known extrasolar planets. Together, they conceived a novel technique for detecting stellar wobble due to an orbiting companion, and of deducing from it the mass and orbit of its planet. Since their first announcement of extrasolar planets in 1995, Marcy and his colleagues have continued observations at the University of California's Lick telescope, and have extended their planet search to the more sensitive Keck telescopes in Hawaii and to the Anglo-Australian Observatories to view stars in the Southern Hemisphere.

Another new electee, Jennifer A. Doudna, will join UC Berkeley's molecular and cell biology department in January 2003. Currently, she is Henry Ford II Professor in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and an associate investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute there. She uses techniques such as cryoelectron microscopy and X-ray crystallography to understand the biological machine that translates RNA, and how the hepatitis C virus hijacks this cellular machine.

A professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer science, Manuel Blum, also was elected to the NAS. Now a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, Blum is one of the founders of computational complexity theory, which attempts to determine the difficulty of performing computations. He has shown how his techniques can be applied to make computer programs more reliable, and to check their results.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Additional information about the National Academy of Sciences is available on the Internet at A full directory of NAS members can be found online at