May 15, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 16

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    Faculty members, lab scientists elected to two national research academies

    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences announced their 2008 classes at the end of April, and members of the University faculty, the Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Director of Materials Science at Argonne National Laboratory and a prominent University alumnus are among them.

    Eight Chicago scholars have been elected as fellows in this year’s class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Alexander Beilinson, the David & Mary Winton Green University Professor in Mathematics; Graeme Bell, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine; Sir Peter Crane, the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor in Geophysical Sciences; Vladimir Drinfeld, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics; Michael Geyer, the Samuel N. Harper Professor in History; William Landes, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics in the Law School; Glenn Most, Professor in Social Thought; and Anne Robertson, the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Music.

    Also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is Pier Oddone, the Director of Fermilab—in which the University plays a key management role as a member of the Fermi Research Alliance—and U.S. Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (A.B.,’41), recipient of the University’s 2002 Alumni Medal. George Crabtree, Director of Materials Science at Argonne, is among this year’s newly elected members to the National Academy of Sciences.

    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected 191 new fellows and 22 new foreign honorary members this year. The 213 scholars, scientists, artists, and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 20 states and 15 countries. The 2008 fellows also represent more than 50 universities and more than a dozen corporations, as well as museums, national laboratories, private research institutes, media outlets and foundations.

    Fellows and foreign honorary members are nominated and elected to the academy by current members. A broad-based membership, which is composed of scholars and practitioners from mathematics, physics, biological sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts, public affairs and business, gives the academy a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary studies and public policy research.

    Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected as its members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation.

    The election was held during the business session of the 145th annual meeting of the academy. Those elected brought the total number of active members to 2,041. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States. The election also brought the total number of foreign associates to 397.

    The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the advancement of science and its use for the general welfare. Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional act of incorporation in 1863, calling on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

    Alexander “Sasha” Beilinson

    Alexander “Sasha” Beilinson, the David and Mary Winton Green University Professor in Mathematics and the College, focuses his work on arithmetic algebraic geometry. He has made additional contributions to representation theory and mathematical physics. Mathematicians expect his “Beilinson Conjectures” to serve as a guiding influence in his field for many years.

    Beilinson often collaborates with University colleague Vladimir Drinfeld, who also has been elected to the American Academy this year (see below). They have become well known in mathematical circles for co-organizing seminar series of topics of common interest. Together, they spent years reworking the theory of vertex algebras, jointly publishing a monograph on the topic in 2004.

    Beilinson joined the University in 1998. From 1989 until 1998, he spent most fall semesters teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a professor of mathematics and worked the remainder of the year as a researcher at the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics in Chernogolovka, Russia.

    From 1980 to 1988, Beilinson conducted mathematical research at a Moscow cardiological center. He received the Moscow Mathematical Society prize in 1984.

    Graeme Bell

    Graeme Bell is a leading authority on the genetics of diabetes.

    In 1990, Bell’s team mapped the first gene responsible for an inherited form of diabetes called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) to a region on chromosome 20. In 1992, they found that mutations in the enzyme glucokinase caused a different form of MODY. In 1996, Bell and colleagues found that another form of MODY resulted from mutations in the hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1 alpha. This finding led to the rapid discovery of other MODY genes.

    In 2000, he identified a susceptibility gene for type 2 diabetes in Mexican Americans—the first time a genome-wide approach had successfully led to identifying a susceptibility gene for a common, genetically complex disorder. In 2001, he showed that complete deficiency of glucokinase was a cause of neonatal diabetes, and in 2007, he showed that mutations in insulin were another cause of this form of diabetes. These discoveries have led to a better understanding of the causes of diabetes, as well as improved diagnosis and treatment.

    A prolific researcher, Bell has published more than 380 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 70 book chapters and review articles, and he holds 14 patents. The American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Swedish Medical Society and the British Diabetic Association have all honored Bell for his research, and in 1998, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

    George Crabtree

    George Crabtree is a senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, which is managed by UChicagoArgonne LLC. Crabtree is director of Argonne’s Materials Science Division.

    He also holds the title of Argonne Distinguished Fellow, the laboratory’s highest scientific and engineering rank. The title, held by fewer than 30 Argonne employees, is comparable to an endowed chair at a top-ranked university and recognizes Crabtree’s exceptional contributions to science.

    Crabtree’s research interests include materials science, nanoscale superconductors and magnets. He has advocated using solar energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the soaring global demand for energy, and in 2005 was co-chair and report editor for the Workshop on Basic Research Needs for Solar Energy Utilization.

    The Institute for Scientific Information has ranked Crabtree as a Highly Cited Researcher in Physics since 2001. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the recipient of the 2003 Kamerlingh Onnes Prize, awarded for outstanding experiments in the field of superconductivity. He was cited for his pioneering experiments on vortex matter, the intricate patterns formed by lines of magnetic flux as they penetrate superconductors.

    Crabtree also has four times received the U.S. Department of Energy Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Solid State Physics, and he twice received the University’s Award for Distinguished Performance at Argonne.

    Sir Peter Crane

    Sir Peter Crane, the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College, integrates studies of living and fossil plants to understand the large-scale patterns and processes of plant evolution. Crane is especially interested in the early evolution of flowering plants and has collected and studied specimens from Western Europe and eastern North America ranging from 70 million to 120 million years old. He also is engaged in a variety of plant-diversity conservation initiatives.

    Crane is the author of more than 100 scientific publications. His credits include several books on plant evolution.

    He was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in England, from 1999 to 2006, when he joined the University faculty. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Kew Gardens holds the world’s largest collection of living and preserved plants and is also a major tourist attraction. Before his appointment at Kew, he was director of the Field Museum in Chicago.

    An elected member of the Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences, Crane was knighted in 2004 for services to horticulture and conservation. Among many other awards, he received the Paleontological Society’s 1993 Schuchert Award for a scientist under the age of 40 whose work reflects excellence and promise in paleontology. He also served as president of the Society from 1998 to 2000.

    Crane is a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Missouri Botanic Garden in St. Louis, the National Museum of Natural History in the Smithsonian Institution and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

    Vladimir Drinfeld

    Vladimir Drinfeld, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics and the College, conducts most of his work in the geometric Langlands program, which is a part of geometric representation theory. In 1990, he received the Fields Medal, the mathematics equivalent to the Nobel Prize. The medals are awarded to no fewer than two and no more than four mathematicians under the age of 40 every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians.

    Drinfeld joined the Chicago faculty in 1999, shortly after the appointments of Beilinson, Nikolai Nadirashvili (now of France’s National Center for Scientific Research), and Ridgway Scott, the Louis Block Professor in Computer Science and Mathematics. These appointments prompted the Chronicle of Higher Education to report that, “Three mathematicians from the former Soviet Union plus one leading American mathematician equal a stellar recruiting year for the University of Chicago’s mathematics department.”

    Drinfeld came to Chicago from Ukraine’s Institute for Low Temperature Physics and Engineering, where he had worked since 1981. He also has taught at Bashkir State University in Ufa in the former Soviet Union and at Ukraine’s Kharkiv National University.

    Michael Geyer

    Michael Geyer, an internationally renowned scholar of contemporary European history and the Samuel N. Harper Professor in History and the College, is a specialist on Germany as well as transnational issues.

    A leading expert on transnationalism and modern German history, he has received both a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship and a Humboldt Research Award, which provided him time and support to work on his book, Catastrophic Nationalism: Defeat and Self-destruction in German History.

    For the project, he has been studying a wide variety of archival records as well as artistic and literary sources, including pamphlets and films, related to World Wars I and II as he studies why nations end and continue to fight in wars.

    Geyer is co-author of Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories, a reflection on the nature of modern German history.

    William Landes

    William Landes joined the faculty of the Law School in 1974 and has been the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law & Economics in the Law School since 1992. He has written widely on the application of economics and quantitative methods to law and legal institutions, including torts, intellectual property, judicial behavior, legal decision-making and art law.

    His most recent book, The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (2003), written with Richard Posner, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, applied economic analysis to the many legal doctrines in trademark, copyright, trade secret and patent law.

    Landes has been an editor of the Journal of Law and Economics (1975-91) and the Journal of Legal Studies (1991-2000), is past president of the American Law and Economics Association and is a member of the American Economic Association, the Mont Pelerin Society and the Council of Economic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a member of the board of governors and chairman of the Collections Committee of the Smart Museum of Art.

    Glenn Most

    Glenn Most, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, is largely concerned with classical poetry and philosophy, literary and aesthetic theory, and the post-classical reception of antiquity. His far-ranging work includes examinations of the Greek poet Pindar, Latin poetry and prose, and German Romantic literature. He has co-edited a book on detective fiction and has recently published a two-volume Loeb edition of the Greek poet Hesiod. His 2005 book, Doubting Thomas, interpreted the story of the Apostle Thomas in the Gospel of John and examined its later influence.

    Most, who came to Chicago in 1996 after teaching at Heidelberg University, has received numerous awards for his scholarship, including the 1994 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. It is awarded to outstanding young researchers who are still in a phase of increasing research productivity and who are working at German institutes, both in Germany and abroad.

    Pier Oddone

    Pier Oddone is Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which is managed by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, a partnership of the University and the Universities Research Association.

    In previous positions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oddone served as Deputy Director and as Director of its Physics Division. During his term as Deputy Director, the Berkeley Lab gained the National Energy Super Computer Center, launched and developed the Joint Genome Institute, broke ground on the Molecular Foundry, and established major new programs in quantitative biology, astrophysics and computer science, and in exploiting the Advanced Light Source.

    Oddone has conducted research in experimental particle physics, primarily on electron-positron colliders at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He invented the Asymmetric B-Factory at SLAC, a new kind of elementary particle collider to study the differences between matter and antimatter.

    He was a founding member of a large international collaboration at SLAC, called BarBar. Along with the Belle collaboration of the Japanese laboratory for high-energy physics, BarBar discovered the existence of matter-antimatter asymmetry in decays of particles known as
    B mesons.

    A fellow of the American Physical Society, Oddone received the 2005 Panofsky Award from the American Physical Society for his invention of the Asymmetric B-Factory.

    Anne Robertson

    Anne Robertson, the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Music, is a music historian with a special interest in French medieval liturgical music, ceremony and architecture, as well as music and mysticism.

    Her books include The Service Books of the Royal Abbey of St. Denis: Images of Ritual and Music in the Middle Ages, which earned the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America, and Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in his Musical Works.

    Her honors include the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society and the Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize of the Medieval Academy. Robertson, who has taught at Chicago since 1984, has served as Deputy Provost for Research and Education and Chair of the Department of Music.

    Stories written by William Harms, Steve Koppes, Julia Morse and Josh Schonwald.