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Six named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Five faculty members and one member of the academic staff have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their "distinguished contributions to science, scholarship, public affairs and the arts."

The new members, who were elected April 18, are Hans U. Gumbrecht, professor of literature; Helen R. Quinn, senior staff physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; Leonard G. Ratner, professor emeritus of music; Richard H. Scheller, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator; Edward I. Solomon, professor of chemistry; and Richard W. Tsien, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

The six are among 146 new fellows and 22 foreign honorary members elected this year to the academy, which was founded in 1780. The academy includes more than 4,000 fellows and honorary members.

Gumbrecht, the Albert Guerard Professor of Literature, joined the Stanford faculty in 1989 as professor of Romance literatures in the departments of comparative literature and French and Italian. His research interests in Romance literature span the Middle Ages to the present, and have included medieval narrative, political rhetoric during the French Revolution, the 19th-century novel, the history of Spanish literature and questions of literary theory.

Gumbrecht is the author of seven books and almost 100 papers dealing with the history of ideas, sociological approaches to literature, the role of media in culture and the social history of the Enlightenment. He was nominated by the University of Siegen for the Leibniz Prize, and he has held guest professorships at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Montreal, and universities in Paris, Salamanca, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

Quinn, a senior staff physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is the coordinator of a year-long study of the expected physics output of SLAC's biggest new collider, the Asymmetric B Factory. The study includes more than 100 experimental and theoretical physicists who are attempting to compile all of the expectations and theoretical predictions into a single volume that can be used when the giant machine goes into operation next year.

Quinn is also the coordinator of the center's educational outreach programs, which include yearly workshops for high school physics teachers and summer internships for undergraduates from under-represented minorities. In this capacity she is also heavily involved in a number of panels and programs designed to improve standards for science education at the district and state level.

Quinn has published 50 scientific papers, including two of the 30 most cited papers in theoretical physics in the past 20 years. She is currently a member of the Council of the American Physical Society.

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, joining 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.

Ratner, professor emeritus of music, began teaching music composition and theory at Stanford in 1947. He was educated at the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of California-Berkeley, and previously had taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Ratner held the Ladd Prix de Paris Fellowship in musical composition at the Juilliard Graduate School, and has studied with Schoenberg and Frederich Jacobi. He also held fellowships at Columbia University and Harvard University for the study of 18th-century music and culture.

A composer who has produced works for string quartet, symphony and string orchestra, as well as a chamber opera and various sonatas, Ratner is a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music and the American Musicological Society. His works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Composers' Forum of Northern California, the Alma Trio and the Little Symphony of San Francisco, and several of his works were introduced by Stanford chamber music groups. Ratner is the author of Music, the Listener's Art and Classic Music: Expression, Form and Style.

Scheller is a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Scheller's research focuses on the mechanisms of synaptic transmission. He studies the molecular and cellular basis of cell­cell communication in the nervous system with the goal of understanding the biochemical mechanisms of learning and memory. To define the molecular mechanisms that regulate membrane flow in the nerve, work is under way to characterize the proteins associated with a critical organelle, the synaptic vesicle.

Scheller received a doctorate in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1980. He served as a postdoctoral fellow in the division of biology at Cal Tech and in the division of molecular neurobiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1982 Scheller joined Stanford as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and in 1987 he became an associate professor. In 1990 he was appointed associate professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and was promoted to professor three years later, while continuing to hold a courtesy appointment in biological sciences.

Scheller was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator in 1990; he became an HHMI investigator in 1994. Scheller has garnered numerous honors and awards, including a Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award (1984), a National Institute of Mental Health MERIT Award (1992) and a National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (1997).

Solomon, the Monroe E. Spaght Professor of Chemistry, is an expert in applying spectroscopy to the study of an important class of catalysts, those that contain transition metals like iron and copper. These catalysts play a key role in both industrial and biological processes. Spectroscopy, the study of how materials absorb and reflect light of different colors or frequencies, is a powerful method of chemical analysis. Solomon's group uses spectroscopic methods to work out the subtle interplay of electrons between organic molecules and metallic atoms that allows living organisms to create a wide variety of essential compounds without requiring excessive temperatures or pressures.

For example, his group worked out a special spectroscopic technique that allowed them to examine for the first time the active sites of a class of biological catalysts, called non-heme iron enzymes. One such enzyme that they have studied is lipoxygenase, which is involved in inflammation. Their research has been useful to drug companies searching for improved ways to inhibit the enzyme's action. Solomon and his students also study catalysts that have vital industrial uses. Examples are the multi-copper oxidases, compounds of interest to biotechnology companies because they can act as a gentle beaching agent.

Solomon has received numerous awards, beginning with winning the Westinghouse Foundation National Science Talent Search in 1964. He was a Sloan fellow, received young faculty awards from DuPont and General Electric, and was given the Remsen Award in Chemistry in 1994. He has been a visiting professor at a number of universities around the world, which has given him firsthand experience on how chemistry is practiced in different societies.

After receiving his doctorate from Princeton in 1972, he worked his way up from assistant to full professor at MIT in six years. He came to Stanford in 1982.

Tsien is the George D. Smith Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the School of Medicine. Tsien's research focuses on the signaling mechanisms that link electrical activity to intracellular signaling, with the principal aim of understanding the workings of calcium ion channels and their modes of communication with the synaptic release machinery and with the cell nucleus. Neurobiologist Tsien recently received a SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals grant of $150,000 for two-year research projects.

Tsien received a doctorate in biophysics at Oxford University, England, in 1970. While a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, Tsien co-authored the classic reference Electric Current Flow in Excitable Cells. He served on the faculty of Yale University School of Medicine in the Department of Physiology, beginning as an assistant professor in 1970 and becoming a full professor in 1979, a position he held until leaving Yale in 1988 to join Stanford.

Tsien established the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the Stanford School of Medicine and served as department chair until 1994. He has directed the Silvio Conte­National Institute of Mental Health Center for Neuroscience Research at Stanford since 1991. He has twice won a Kaiser Award for Outstanding and Innovative Teaching (1991, 1995). Tsien, a member of the distinguished Institute of Medicine since 1994, has earned many honors, including the Walter B. Cannon Memorial Award of the American Physiological Society (1996) and membership in the Academica Sinica (1996) and in the National Academy of Sciences (1997).


By David F. Salisbury

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