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Stanford Report, May 8, 2002

Six Stanford faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences


Six members of the Stanford faculty, including President John Hennessy, have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). They are among 72 new members and 15 foreign associates selected April 30 in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Established by a congressional act in 1863, NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers whose 1,907 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. Other newly elected members include Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers, University of California-Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey W. Marcy and human genome pioneer Craig J. Venter of the Institute for Genomic Research.

This year's election brings the total number of Stanford faculty serving on the academy to 129, plus an additional three affiliated with the Hoover Institution. The new Stanford NAS members follow:

Patrick O. Brown, professor of biochemistry and associate investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, joined the Stanford medical faculty in 1988. He advanced genomics research with the development of the gene microarray -- a postage stamp-sized device containing a grid of tiny spots that correspond with each gene in a particular genome. The microarray technology invented at Stanford by Brown and his colleagues enables studies that can provide detailed molecular pictures of the programmed responses of the human genome to diverse physiological and pathological conditions. Brown received his doctoral degree in 1980 and his M.D. in 1982 from the University of Chicago, and served as a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology and immunology at the University of California-San Francisco from 1985 to 1988. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2000, Brown received the NAS Award in Molecular Biology.

John L. Hennessy, an electrical engineer and computer scientist, is Stanford's tenth president. He earned master's and doctoral degrees in computer science from the State University of New York-Stony Brook in 1975 and 1977, respectively. An expert in the architecture of microprocessors, Hennessy came to Stanford in 1977 as an assistant professor and began a series of projects in computer architecture. With graduate students, in 1981 he began a project called MIPS (for "millions of instructions per second") to simplify computing with an approach that became known as RISC (reduced instruction set computing). He was promoted to full professor in 1986 and co-founded MIPS Computer Systems (now MIPS Technologies Inc.) while on sabbatical from 1984 to 1985. His recent work involves design of easy-to-program, scalable, shared-memory multiprocessors. This project has inspired the design of several commercial multiprocessors. Hennessy is coauthor of two textbooks on computer architecture, each of which has been published in multiple editions and has sold more than 100,000 copies. He served as chair of the Computer Science Department from 1994 to 1996, dean of the School of Engineering from 1996 to 1999 and provost from July 1999 to August 2000. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association for Computing Machinery and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is recipient of the American Society for Engineering Education's Benjamin Garver Lamme Award and co-recipient of IEEE's John von Neumann Medal.

Eric I. Knudsen, the Edward C. and Amy H. Sewall Professor in the School of Medicine and chair of the Department of Neurobiology, joined the Stanford medical faculty in 1979. His research focuses on the learning mechanisms and information-processing strategies in the central auditory system of developing and adult barn owls. His pioneering investigations involve studying the underlying cellular mechanisms that determine how experience shapes anatomical and functional connections in the developing brain. Knudsen recently directed the interdisciplinary neurosciences program, which is designed for Stanford graduate students with an interest in unlocking the mysteries of the brain, including understanding the basis of learning, memory and perception. Knudsen, who was born in Palo Alto, received his doctoral degree at the University of California-San Diego in 1976 and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Caltech in 1979. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Troland Research Award from the NAS.

Michael Levitt, professor and chair of the medical school's Department of Structural Biology, joined the medical faculty in 1987. Levitt is known for his work in computational biology; he pioneered the use of all-atom potential energy and Cartesian minimization to enable simulations of molecular dynamics. He discovered the four ways in which proteins fold and explained how the individual folded regions fit together. His current research focuses on predicting a protein's structure based on its sequence; computing the geometry of biological molecules; and genomic analysis. Levitt's work is geared toward answering such questions as what are the fundamental interactions that stabilize biological macromolecules, can protein structure be predicted from sequence and how do protein sequences evolve. Levitt was born in South Africa and graduated from King's College, London. He received his doctoral degree in 1987 at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship and later held a faculty post at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He was named an elected fellow of the Royal Society in 2001 for his "highly original work in structural molecular biology."

Stephen H. Schneider is professor of biological sciences and, by courtesy, of civil and environmental engineering, and senior fellow at the Institute for International Studies. Schneider received his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering and plasma physics from Columbia University. Since joining the Stanford faculty a decade ago, he has done pioneering modeling work in the fields of atmospheric science and global climatology. He has initiated new research and policy directions in environmental issues through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, popular publications, legislative testimony, media appearances, and scientific and public policy forums. His current research interests include climatic change, global warming and climatic modeling of paleoclimates and of human impacts on climate. In addition to serving as a presidential science adviser, Schneider was a coordinating lead author of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization), and a lead author of Working Group I. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recipient of numerous awards and honor -- including a MacArthur Fellowship and the AAAS/ Westinghouse Award for furthering public understanding of science and technology. In 1998 he became a foreign member of the Academia Europaea, Earth and Cosmic Sciences Section.

David O. Siegmund, professor of statistics, works at the interface between probability and statistics. He has presented elegant solutions to several difficult problems in probability theory that are of interest to applied statisticians. They mainly concern sequential analysis -- the study of how data should be accumulated in an experimental situation. Siegmund pioneered the development of methods that are used in the analysis of sequential clinical trials, allowing pharmaceutical investigators to assess, for instance, if a new medicinal treatment is better or worse than an old one, and if the results warrant stopping an FDA Phase III clinical trial. His recent work has focused on different problems in statistical genetics, especially genetic mapping, or identifying the locations of genes that are involved in specific traits. He employs similar methods to aid the analysis of sequences of amino acids that make up proteins. Siegmund earned a doctorate from Columbia University in 1966 and served on the Columbia faculty until 1976, with a brief stint at Stanford from 1967 to 1969. He accepted a full professorship with the Stanford Department of Statistics in 1976, serving as department chair from 1982 to 1985 and 1997 to 2001. He was associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1993 to 1996. Author of two books on sequential analysis and a former president of the Institute for Mathematical Statistics, Siegmund has been recipient of Guggenheim, Einstein and Fulbright fellowships, the Humboldt Prize, the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Wilks Medal of the American Statistical Association. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Patrick O. Brown

John L. Hennessy

Eric I. Knudsen

Michael Levitt

Stephen H. Schneider

David O. Siegmund