CBiographies of Committee Members

Publication Details

Erin K. O’Shea (NAS), Co-Chair, is professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, where she is a member of the biophysics faculty. She is also an investigator for HHMI. Dr. O’Shea received her Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT in 1992. Before teaching at Harvard, Dr. O’Shea was a member of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2004, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for her critical contributions to our knowledge of how cells sense and respond to their environment. She has been chair of the Committee on Degrees in Chemical and Physical Biology at Harvard.

Peter G. Wolynes (NAS), Co-Chair, is the Francis Crick Chair of the departments of chemistry and biochemistry and of physics at the University of California, San Diego. He received his Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard in 1976. After a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he returned to the faculty at Harvard. In 1980 he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois, moving to the University of California, San Diego, in 2000. His research has ranged widely over many areas of theoretical chemistry, physics, and biology, including theories of chemical reactions and quantum many-body phenomena in liquids and biomolecules and the theory of glasses. He is most well known, however, for his development of the energy landscape theory of protein folding, which brought the perspective of modern statistical mechanics to this central problem of molecular biology and led to new approaches to predicting protein structures from DNA sequences. Dr. Wolynes is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1991) and a fellow of the APS, the Biophysical Society, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received the Award in Pure Chemistry (1986) and the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (2000), both from the American Chemical Society. He is the 2004 recipient of the Biological Physics Prize awarded by the APS.

Robert H. Austin (NAS) is a professor of biophysics at Princeton University whose current research involves topics such as DNA conductance and nanofabrication. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1975. Since 1979, Dr. Austin has been a professor at Princeton University. In 1998 he was elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society and as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In the following year, Dr. Austin was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences for his ability to combine physical tools and theories with biochemical techniques to attack fundamental problems in protein and nucleic acid dynamics and function. His research interests span three areas: protein dynamics and conformational statistics; DNA dynamics and base pair sequence elastic variability; and applications of micro- and nanofabrication technology to cellular and molecular biology. He has also served as chair of the Division of Biological Physics in the American Physical Society (2002). Currently, he is the chair of the U.S. Liaison Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

Bonnie Bassler (NAS) is professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and has been an HHMI investigator since 2005. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in 1984. Before becoming a professor, Dr. Bassler was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the Agouron Institute. Her current research interests include the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use to communicate with one another. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2002) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006). She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2006). Dr. Bassler is the recipient of several awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2002), the Theobald Smith Society Waksman Award (2003), the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for Medical Technology, and the Eli Lilly and Company Research Award (2006). She was also chosen as the 2004 Inventor of the Year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. She is a member of several professional societies and has served on several committees and scientific advisory boards such as that for the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin.

Charles R. Cantor (NAS) is a founder, chief scientific officer, and member of the board of directors of Sequenom, Inc. He is also a founder of SelectX Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company based in the Boston area. Dr. Cantor is codirector of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University and has held positions at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley. He was also director of the Human Genome Center of the Department of Energy at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966. His research interests include human genome analysis, molecular genetics, new biophysical tools and methodologies, and genetic engineering. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed articles, has been granted more than 60 patents, and coauthored a three-volume textbook on biophysical chemistry and the first textbook on genomics: The Science and Technology of the Human Genome Project. He sits on the advisory boards of more than 20 national and international organizations.

William F. Carroll is vice president for chlorovinyl issues of the Occidental Chemical Corporation, adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University, where he teaches polymer chemistry, and past president of the American Chemical Society (2006). He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1978. Dr. Carroll is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a member of the Science Advisory Board for DePauw University. He has been an active member of and chaired various committees for a number of chemistry, plastics, fire protection, and recycling organizations. He has served on expert groups commissioned by the United Nations Environmental Program, the State of Florida, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Carroll holds two patents and has over 40 publications in the fields of organic electrochemistry, polymer chemistry, combustion chemistry and physics, incineration, plastics recycling, and chlorine issues. He received the Vinyl Institute’s Roy T. Gottesman Leadership Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. Currently, he is serving on the Chemical Sciences Roundtable of the NRC and the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Thomas R. Cech (NAS, IOM) is Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder and director of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology. Previously, he was president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Cech received a B.A. degree in chemistry from Grinnell College and a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. His postdoctoral work in biology was conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Cech is a strong advocate for science education at all levels and has worked to improve the career development and mentorship of young scientists. Dr. Cech is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among the honors he has received are the Lasker Award, the National Medal of Science, and the 1989 Nobel prize in chemistry.

Christopher B. Field (NAS) is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, where his research emphasizes ecological contributions across the range of Earth-science disciplines. Dr. Field and his colleagues have developed diverse approaches to quantifying large-scale ecosystem processes, using satellites, atmospheric data, models, and census data. At the ecosystem-scale, he has, for more than a decade, led major experiments on grassland responses to global change, experiments that integrate approaches from molecular biology to remote sensing. Dr. Field’s activities in building the culture of global ecology include service on many national and international committees, including committees of the National Research Council, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and the Earth System Science Partnership. He is a fellow of the European Space Agency Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has served on the editorial boards of Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecosystems, Global Change Biology, and PNAS. Dr. Field received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1981 and has been at the Carnegie Institution since 1984.

Graham R. Fleming (NAS) is the deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and a professor in the chemistry department at the University of California at Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of London in 1974 and following several postdoctoral positions, spent 18 years at the University of Chicago. He moved to Berkeley in 1997 to direct the newly created physical bioscience division at LBNL. His research expertise is in the application of femtosecond spectroscopy to chemical and biological phenomena, recently focusing on the energy transfer steps of photosynthesis. He has also studied the difference between natural and man-made solar energy conversion materials. He served on the Chemistry Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation and recently chaired the Grand Challenges subcommittee for the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. Dr. Fleming is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a past winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and A.P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship awards. He has won numerous awards from the American Chemical Society, including the Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry, the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, and the Harrison Howe Award.

Robert J. Full is professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo in 1984 and then held a research and teaching postdoctoral position at the University of Chicago from 1984 to 1986. In 1986 he joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley as an assistant professor of zoology. He was promoted to associate professor of integrative biology in 1991 and became a full professor in 1995. In 1990, Dr. Full received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigators Award and in 1996 was given a Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1997, Professor Full became a Chancellor’s Professor and the director of a new biological visualization center. He directs the Poly-P.E.D.A.L. Laboratory, which studies the performance, energetics, and dynamics of animal locomotion (P.E.D.A.L.) in many-footed creatures.

Shirley Ann Jackson (NAE) is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She holds a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1973) and was the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. from MIT in any subject. She specializes in theoretical condensed matter physics, especially layered systems, and the physics of optoelectronic materials. Before becoming president at RPI, Jackson was chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995–1999), where she was its principal executive officer; a theoretical physicist conducting basic research at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories (1976–1991); and a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University (1991–1995). Professor Jackson is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (2001) and is on the Division on Earth and Life Studies Division Committee in the NRC.

Laura L. Kiessling (NAS) is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. She received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1989. Her research specializes in biological recognition processes and chemical synthesis. She has attained several awards, including the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic or Medicinal Chemistry (2005). Dr. Kiessling was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in May 2007 and has served as the editor of ACS Chemical Biology.

Charles M. Lovett, Jr., is the Philip and Dorothy Schein Professor of Chemistry at Williams College. He is also director of the Science Center, chair of the Science Executive Committee and of the Bioinformatics, Genomics and Proteomics Project (BIG P). His research focuses on damage-inducible DNA repair in Bacillus subtilis. He has isolated and characterized many of the molecular components (i.e., regulatory proteins and DNA binding sites) of this induction pathway.

Dianne Newman is the John & Dorothy Wilson Professor of Biology and Geobiology in the Departments of Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She completed a Ph.D. at MIT in civil and environmental engineering, followed by postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School. She spent 7 years as a professor of geobiology at the California Institute of Technology and was a researcher with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute prior to returning to MIT. Her research expertise is in molecular geobiology, using interdisciplinary approaches to study the molecular mechanisms that underlie ancient forms of metabolism. Dr. Newman received the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellowship for Science and Engineering and the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research.

Monica Olvera de la Cruz is professor of materials science and engineering, chemistry, and chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University. She received a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University in 1985. She has been a visiting professor at the Service de Physique Theorique, Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, in France, where she also held a staff scientist position (1995–1997). She was a Baetjer lecturer at Princeton in 2005. Currently, she is on the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (2005–2009) and the Solid State Science Committee for the NRC (2006–2010). Her expertise is in polymer theory, phase transformations, and polyelectrolytes. Dr. Olvera de la Cruz is a fellow of the American Physical Society. She received the Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation (1990–1995), the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (1990–1992), and the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering (1988–1994).

José N. Onuchic (NAS) is a professor at the University of California at San Diego (USCD), where he co-directs the NSF Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. His research is in the area of theoretical biophysics and chemical physics, focusing on the rational design of functional proteins using computational methods. He is a member of the Molecular Biophysics Training Grant Steering Committee at UCSD and served on UCSD’s Task Force on Biological Sciences. He was awarded the Engineering Institute Prize, Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1980 and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics Prize in honor of Professor Werner Heisenberg, Trieste, Italy, in 1988. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1987. He was named an associate member of the Academia de Ciencias do Estado de Sao Paulo, a Beckman Young Investigator, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a senior fellow of SDSC, a national laboratory for computational science and engineering. He is a member of the NRC’s Board on Physics and Astronomy and in 2006 was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences for his work in developing the quantitative field of electron tunneling in proteins and explaining how electron transfer rates depend on protein structure.

Gregory A. Petsko (NAS, IOM) is the Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacodynamics and the director of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center at Brandeis University. He has developed low-temperature methods in protein crystallography and their use to study enzymatic mechanisms and has pioneered the study of protein dynamics in enzymatic reactions. For over 25 years, he has worked to understand how enzymes achieve their extraordinary catalytic power, developing crystallographic methods for direct observation of productive enzyme-substrate and enzyme-intermediate complexes that led to techniques for studying protein crystal structures at very low temperatures. He is a founding scientist of the combinatorial-chemistry company ArQule, Inc., and hopes to use genetic, biochemical, and biophysical tools to study structure-function relationships as they apply to in vivo and in vitro function. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and to the Institute of Medicine in 2001.

Astrid Prinz is an assistant professor of biology at Emory University. She earned a Ph.D. from the Munich Technical University in 2000. Dr. Prinz specializes in neural networks, most recently the stomatogastric ganglion in crustaceans, and is a member of the Computational and Life Sciences Initiative at Emory.

Charles V. Shank (NAS, NAE) is currently a member of the Janelia Farm Research group for HHMI. He received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969. He then spent 20 years as a researcher and director at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1989, Dr. Shank moved to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he served as director until 2004. In addition to his position as laboratory director, Dr. Shank had a triple appointment as professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the departments of physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering and computer sciences. Dr. Shank has served on numerous state and national committees and councils, including the California Council on Science and Technology; the National Critical Technologies Panel of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Solid State Sciences Committee of the National Research Council. He was chair of the NRC’s Committee on Optical Science and Engineering. He has been honored with the R.W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America, has received the George E. Pake Prize and the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize of the American Physical Society, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1984) and National Academy of Engineering (1983). He is author or coauthor of more than 200 scientific publications. His research expertise includes electro-optical systems, laser systems, and solid state electronics. Currently, Dr. Shank is a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the NRC.

Boris I. Shraiman is a permanent member of the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His research focuses on quantitative systems biology and bioinformatics and the statistical mechanics of nonequilibrium systems focusing on physical mechanisms of growth control in the development of limbs and organs and physical approaches to comparative genomics and evolution. Before coming to the Kavli Institute, he worked at Lucent Technologies and Rutgers University. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard in 1983 and did postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago.

H. Eugene Stanley (NAS) is university professor, professor of physics, physiology, and biomedical engineering, and director of the Center for Polymer Studies at Boston University. He has made fundamental discoveries in the theory of phase transitions and critical phenomena for a wide range of systems, including the water structure and polymers. His pioneering applications of statistical mechanics to biology, economics, and medicine have led to significant insights. He is an elected member of the NAS.

George M. Whitesides (NAS, NAE) is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard. He received a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1964 and was a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1963 to 1982. Dr. Whitesides joined the Department of Chemistry of Harvard University in 1982 and was Department Chairman from 1986 to 1989 and Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry from 1982 to 2004. His present research interests include physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, complexity, surface science, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, origin of life, and cell-surface biochemistry. Dr. Whitesides’s recent advisory positions include service with the NRC on various boards, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and NASA. He is currently on the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy for the National Academies. He is a member of several societies, including the National Academy of Sciences (1978), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering (2005), and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also an honorary member of the Materials Research Society of India and honorary fellow of the Chemical Research Society of India. Dr. Whitesides has won several awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Linus Pauling Medal.