Three UCLA professors have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences "in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research," the academy announced today.
Only three universities — Harvard, UC San Francisco and Stanford — had more faculty elected this year. UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine each have three new members, placing four UC campuses among the top six universities in the country.
Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. Among the academy's most renowned members have been Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell. There are currently more than 2,000 active academy members, of whom nearly 200 have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
The election of this year's UCLA members, who are among 72 new members from across the U.S. and 18 foreign associates from 14 countries, brings the number of current UCLA academy members to 37.
The new UCLA members are:
Houk is one of the most prolific chemists in the world and one of the world's leading physical organic chemists. The holder of UCLA's Saul Winstein Chair in Organic Chemistry and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, he has pioneered the use of computer calculations and simulations to study organic chemistry and to predict chemical reactivity. His research group has made predictions of new phenomena that have been verified experimentally. Houk has made critical contributions to our understanding of how enzymes are able to selectively catalyze reactions, and in 2008, his research group used computer methods to create "designer enzymes" and to predict structures of proteins that can catalyze reactions which do not occur naturally. He and his colleagues are now working on computational methods to predict catalysts for reactions that will have important applications in industry and in therapies for fighting disease.
A distinguished professor of sociology and statistics, Mare focuses his research on the connection between demographic processes and social inequality. He has conducted studies on inequality in educational opportunities; social mobility; socioeconomic differences in mortality; residential segregation by income and race; residential mobility; marriage markets; family structure and poverty; migration; and statistical methods. He is currently working on a study of the causes and consequences of mixed-income housing and neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Chicago. Mare joined the UCLA faculty in January 1998 and was founding director of the California Center for Population Research at UCLA from 1998 to 2003. He is currently president of the Population Association of America.
A professor of anthropology and director of UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Stanish specializes in the evolution of complex societies in the ancient world and has done extensive fieldwork in the Lake Titicaca basin of highland Peru and Bolivia. Over the last 25 years, he has uncovered sites that span more than six millennia of human occupation in the highland and coastal Andes. He also has attracted attention for the role that the online auction site eBay has played in the illegal trafficking of antiquities.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. The academy is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. More information is available at www.nasonline.org.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 323 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Five alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.