August 18, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 20

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    Jacques Beckers, a Senior Scientist in Astronomy & Astrophysics, has been declared Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to honor his exceptional achievements in astrophysics. The Order of the Dutch Lion is the nation’s highest civilian order.

    Beckers received the award during a surprise ceremony on campus. “Although I was aware that a good friend of mine in the Netherlands had proposed me for this royal order, it came as a complete surprise to me to see Robert de Leeuw, Consul General of the Netherlands in Chicago, show up at the Astronomy Department on April 20 to hand me the medals accompanying this award,” Beckers said.

    A U.S. citizen born in the Netherlands, Beckers has published more than 260 papers in academic journals, books and conference proceedings since his research career began in 1959. His contributions span two fields of astrophysics: the physics of the sun, and the development and implementation of major research facilities for making solar and astrophysical observations.

    During the first half of his career, Beckers’ solar research encompassed studies in the magnetic and fluid dynamical properties of the solar atmosphere and sunspots. For his discovery of small-scale, very intense magnetic elements on the sun’s surface he received the Henryk Arctowski medal of the U.S. Academy of Sciences in 1975.

    In the second phase of his career, Beckers directed the Multi-Mirror Observatory of the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Arizona, the Advanced Development Program of the U.S. National Optical Astronomical Observatory in Arizona, the design of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer facility at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, and the U.S. National Solar Observatory in New Mexico.

    Beckers played a major role both in managing these organizations and in developing and implementing major ground-based astronomical facilities and their instrumentation.

    In his latest efforts, Beckers initiated the design of the 4-meter Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, a collaboration of 22 institutions, including Chicago. He also has recently participated in the design of Euro50, a 50-meter European telescope, for which he received an honorary doctorate from Lund University in Sweden in 2004.

    John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, has received the 2004 Magellanic Premium of the American Philosophical Society. First awarded in 1790, the Magellanic Premium is the nation’s oldest medal for scientific achievement.

    The society cited Carlstrom for his role in measuring the minute temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation, the afterglow of the big bang.

    He was especially lauded “for his use of instruments based at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. This work uses the properties of one of the very harshest and remote of places on the earth’s surface to measure the state of our universe, very long ago.”

    Aaron Dinner, Assistant Professor in Chemistry and the College, is one of 15 scientists nationwide who has been named a 2005 Searle Scholar. The honor carries $240,000 in support of Dinner’s research over the next three years.

    This year, 193 applications were considered from recently appointed assistant professors nominated by 122 universities and research institutions.

    A scientific advisory board of 12 scientists distinguished for their research and leadership in the chemical and biological sciences made recommendations for the final selection of scholars. In selecting the scholars, the board looked for individuals who have already demonstrated innovative research with the potential for making significant contributions to biological research over an extended period of time.

    Dinner develops computer models to study cellular signaling in the immune system and DNA repair, two processes of vital importance to the health of living organisms. One aspect of his research program focuses on the ability of cells to process signals from their environment, which is central to the immune system’s mission of detecting and destroying pathogens. In his DNA repair research, Dinner is trying to understand how enzymes maintain the genome of an organism.

    The funds that support the awards come from trusts established under the wills of John and Frances Searle. Mr. Searle was president of G.D. Searle & Co. of Skokie, Ill., a research-based pharmaceutical company. The Searles had expressed their wish that some of the proceeds of their estates be used to support research in medicine, chemistry and biological science.

    Eugene Fama, the Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance in the Graduate School of Business, will be honored with the inaugural Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics. In cooperation with Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main, Deutsche Bank established the prize to “honor an internationally renowned researcher who has excelled through influential contributions to research in the fields of finance and money and macroeconomics, and whose work has led to practice and policy-relevant results.”

    The prize will be presented to Fama in October and carries a cash award of 50,000 euros. Fama’s research includes theoretical and empirical work on investments, price formation in capital markets, and corporate finance.

    Peter McCullagh, the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Statistics and the College, has received the Guy medal in silver from the Royal Statistical Society. The society praised McCullagh “for his important and substantial contributions to the Generalized Linear Model and statistical modeling more generally, including his three papers read to the society between 1980 and 2003, as well as his many other contributions through the society’s meetings and journals.” McCullagh received the medal at the annual general meeting of the society on Wednesday, June 15.

    The tenured accounting faculty of the GSB has selected Haresh Sapra, Associate Professor of Accounting in the GSB, to receive the Ernest R. Wish Accounting Research Award for the best paper written by an untenured member of the accounting faculty. Wish, former managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, established the award through a gift from himself and his former firm to recognize excellent research in accounting among untenured GSB faculty.

    Barton Schultz, Fellow and Lecturer in the Division of the Humanities and the College, has been honored by the American Philosophical Society for his book Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe (2004).

    An intellectual biography, Schultz’s volume earned the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History. His book was singled out as a “comprehensive study” of Sidgwick, the great Victorian moral philosopher and influential writer on religion, politics, education, psychology and parapsychology.

    Schultz has taught in the College for 18 years. In addition to a course on happiness, he frequently teaches classes on pragmatism and utilitarianism. He has published widely in philosophy, including another book on Sidgwick, Essays on Henry Sidgwick (1992), and a forthcoming collection of essays, co-edited with Georgios Varouxakis, titled Utilitarianism and Empire.

    The Jacques Barzun Prize is awarded each year to the author or authors whose book exhibits distinguished work in American or European cultural history.