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Stanford Report, May 7, 2003

Seven Stanford faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences

Seven Stanford faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). They are among 72 new members and 18 foreign associates selected April 29 for distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Established by a congressional act in 1863, NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers whose 1,922 active members are dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. Upon request, the academy advises the federal government on matters of science and technology.

Election to NAS is one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.

This year's election brings the total number of Stanford faculty serving on the academy to 133, plus an additional three affiliated with the Hoover Institution.

Stanford's new NAS members follow:

Yakov Eliashberg, professor of mathematics, is a leading geometer who has done fundamental work in symplectic geometry, complex analysis and singularity theory. He is a founder of the new and rapidly developing field of symplectic topology, employed to solve long-standing problems in classical mechanics and geometric optics, particularly about the existence and stability of periodic orbits of mechanical systems. In recent years, he and others have discovered deep connections between symplectic topology and other areas of mathematics and theoretical physics, such as differential topology and string theory.

Eliashberg obtained his doctoral degree at Leningrad University in 1972, the same year he joined Syktyvkar University in the northern Soviet Union as an associate professor. He became chair of the math department in 1975. He lost that position in 1979 when he became a "refusenik" -- that is, he was refused permission to emigrate to the United States to join family members. From 1981 to 1987, despite many difficulties while heading a computer software group, Eliashberg continued his mathematical research, and in 1986 he was invited to speak in Berkeley, Calif., at the International Congress of Mathematicians. As he was not allowed to leave the former Soviet Union, his lecture was read for him at that congress. In 1988, he emigrated with his family to the United States and spent a year at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley before joining the Stanford faculty in 1989. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995 and was awarded the Oswald Veblen Prize in 2001 from the American Mathematical Society.

Richard G. Klein, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, researches archeological and fossil evidence for the evolution of human behavior. He has done fieldwork in Spain and South Africa, where he has excavated ancient sites and analyzed the excavated materials since 1969. A faculty member in the Department of Anthropological Sciences, Klein has focused on the behavioral changes that allowed anatomically modern Africans about 50,000 years ago to spread to Eurasia, where they dominated or replaced the Neanderthals and other non-modern Eurasians.

Klein has published articles on all aspects of human evolution and two books, including The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins (1999), which is aimed at professional paleoanthropologists and their students, and The Dawn of Human Culture (2002), written for non-specialists. After earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, Klein went to the University of Chicago to earn his master's and doctoral degrees. Afterward, Klein taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, and for 20 years at the University of Chicago. In 1993, he joined Stanford's faculty. Klein has sat on numerous editorial boards and has edited the Journal of Archaeological Science since 1981. He is a scientific trustee of the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected president of the South African Archaeological Society in 2002.

William D. Nix of the Materials Science and Engineering Department is the Lee Otterson Professor in the School of Engineering. His research interests include the mechanical properties of bulk materials, thin films and nanostructures, and the atomic-scale imperfections that control these properties. Current projects focus on the development of experimental techniques for the study of stresses and mechanical properties of thin films and nanowires and on the modeling of these properties. He is also engaged in research on the mechanical properties of bulk metallic glasses.

Nix received a bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering from San Jose State College in 1959, a master's degree in metallurgical engineering from Stanford in 1960 and a doctorate in materials science from Stanford in 1963. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the Institute of Metals Lecturer and recipient of the Robert Franklin Mehl Award from the Metallurgical Society in 1988, the Acta Metallurgica Gold Medal in 1993, the Educator Award from the Metallurgical Society in 1995 and the American Society for Metals (ASM) Gold Medal from ASM International in 1998. In 2003, he received the Albert Easton White Distinguished Teacher Award from ASM International.

Helen Quinn, a theoretical physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), has made important contributions toward unifying the strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions into a single coherent model of particle physics. In 2000, she shared the Dirac Medal and Prize for this work. After the suggestion that these three distinct interactions were unified into a single mathematical structure, Quinn -- with Howard Georgi and Steven Weinberg -- used this idea to compute the relative strengths of the three interactions. These ratios are now measured precisely in high-energy experiments. With Roberto Peccei, she solved the knotty question of why the weak interactions show small particle-antiparticle asymmetries, while these effects are not seen in purely strong or electromagnetic phenomena. Their theory predicts a new particle that is a leading candidate for the identity of the cosmological dark matter. More recently, Quinn developed basic analysis methods used to search for the origin of particle-antiparticle asymmetry in nature.

A driving force in developing education and outreach programs for the public and science teachers, Quinn played a key role in the development of an interactive web-based explanation of particle physics (http://particleadventure.org/particleadventure). After receiving her doctorate from Stanford in 1967, she held a postdoctoral position at Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron in Hamburg, Germany, then served as a research fellow at Harvard in 1971; she joined the faculty there in 1972. She returned to Stanford in 1976 as a visitor on a Sloan Fellowship and joined the staff at SLAC in 1977. She is a vice chair of the American Physical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Claude M. Steele, the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, has been a psychology professor at Stanford since 1991. Before that he was a faculty member at the universities of Michigan, Washington and Utah. Throughout his career, Steele has been interested in processes of self-evaluation, in particular in how people cope with self-image threat. This work has led to a general theory of self-affirmation processes. He is also interested in a theory of how group stereotypes -- by posing an extra self-evaluative and belongingness threat to such groups as African Americans in all academic domains and women in quantitative domains -- can influence intellectual performance and academic identities. Furthermore, he has long been interested in addictive behaviors, particularly alcohol addiction, where his work with several colleagues has led to a theory of "alcohol myopia," which posits that many of alcohol's social and stress-reducing effects -- effects that may underlie its addictive capacity -- are explained as a consequence of alcohol's narrowing of perceptual and cognitive functioning.

Steele received his bachelor's degree from Hiram College in Ohio and his doctorate in psychology from Ohio State University. He has served as president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and as president of the Western Psychological Association, among other senior positions in his field. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, and is the recipient of a Cattell Faculty Fellowship and the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize. Steele is past chair of the Department of Psychology.

Brian A. Wandell, the Isaac and Madeline Stein Family Professor, has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology since 1979. He holds courtesy appointments in neurosciences and electrical engineering. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in social science from the University of California-Irvine.

Wandell's research includes image system engineering and visual neuroscience. He co-founded the university's Image Systems Engineering Program. Wandell and his students study a variety of topics in digital imaging, including the design of image sensors, high dynamic range displays and software simulations of the digital imaging pipeline. Wandell's work in visual neuroscience uses both functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral testing to understand the action of the visual portions of the brain. His team has developed tools to analyze signals in the brain that are essential for perceiving color and motion, and the researchers are working to apply these tools to understand visual signals in the developing brain during the period when children learn to recognize letters and words.

Wandell has taught courses on behavior, perception, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, image systems and computational neuroimaging. He is the author of numerous articles and the vision science textbook Foundations of Vision (1995). He is an editor of several academic journals, has served as a consultant and technical advisor for a number of corporations and has patented some of the products of his work. In 1986, he won the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for his work in color vision. In 1997, he received the Edridge-Green Medal in Opthalmology for his work in visual neuroscience. In 2000, he was awarded the Macbeth Prize from the Inter-Society Color Council.

Paul A. Wender, the Francis W. Bergstrom Professor of Chemistry and professor, by courtesy, of molecular pharmacology, leads an interdisciplinary research program with a special emphasis on the design and development of new reactions and strategies that introduce fundamentally novel ways of synthesizing medically significant agents -- such as bryostatin, now in human clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. Among his other areas of research are drug design and delivery, organometallic chemistry and photochemistry.

Wender earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Wilkes College in 1969 and a doctoral degree from Yale University in 1973, followed by a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Wender is the recipient of numerous professional honors: the 1988 Ernest Guenther Award; the 1988 ICI Pharmaceutical Group's Stuart Award for Excellence in Chemistry; the 1990 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award; the 1991 Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Award; the 1995 Pfizer Research Award for Synthetic Organic Chemistry; the 1998 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry; and the 2003 ACS H. C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods. In recognition of his outstanding teaching skills, Wender was named recipient of the 1991 Associated Students of Stanford University Teaching Award, the 1991 Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching, the 1992 Bing Teaching Award and the 2000 Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

With reporting by Neil Calder, Dawn Levy, Mark Shwartz and Lisa Trei