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Three professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

STANFORD -- Three Stanford University professors were among 59 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, April 28, in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a U.S. scientist or engineer. Of the 1,651 academy members, 90 are from Stanford and another four are affiliated with the Hoover Institution.

The new Stanford members are:

  • Hans C. Andersen, professor of chemistry and deputy director of the Stanford Center for Materials Research.
  • George A. Thompson, professor of geophysics.
  • Peter M. Vitousek, professor of biological sciences.

Andersen, 50, lists among his principal research interests physical chemistry; statistical mechanics and its application to problems of interest in chemistry, physics, biology and materials science; development and use of molecular dynamics computer simulation methods; theory of liquids; and theory of the glass transition and relaxation processes.

He earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry and his doctorate in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has taught at Stanford since 1968, and in 1973 won the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and this year the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences earlier this month.

Thompson, 72, has played a leading role in the earth sciences, both at Stanford and nationally. His research has focused on how processes in the Earth's deep crust and mantle produce large- scale geologic features, including major mountain ranges, high plateaus and rift valleys.

In 1983, he won the prestigious George P. Woollard Award from the Geological Society of America for his distinguished contributions to geology through the application of geophysics.

He was dean of the School of Earth Sciences from 1987 to 1989, chairman of geophysics from 1967 to 1986 and chairman of geology from 1979 to 1982.

In 1947, Thompson taught the first class in geophysics at Stanford. He earned his doctorate from Stanford in 1949.

Vitousek, who earned his doctorate at Dartmouth, studies nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, greenhouses gases and biological invasions of exotic species. He has worked in Hawaii, Costa Rica and at Stanford's Jasper Ridge preserve.

He seeks to integrate the independently studied areas of biological diversity and global climate changes, using the ecosystem of Hawaii as a model, to communicate the seriousness of global change to the general public.

In 1990, he received a three-year $150,000 award from the Pew Charitable Trusts Scholars Program in Conservation and Environment for his work on ecosystems.

The National Academy of Sciences, established in 1863, is a private organization of scientists and engineers whose stated purpose is the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.


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