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Six UCLA faculty elected to academy

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Six UCLA professors are among 203 scholars, scientists, artists, corporate and philanthropic leaders elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of "preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large, the academy announced.

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the academy has elected as fellows "the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth," the academy said. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Here are UCLA's new fellows:

Joan Selverstone Valentine, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. A chemist working at the interface between inorganic chemistry and biology, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, and has been a member of the UCLA's faculty since 1980. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious journal Accounts of Chemical Research since September 1994, and is a former associate editor of the journal Inorganic Chemistry. The research program in her laboratory has focused on the role of metal ions in biological oxidation and in naturally occurring biological antioxidant systems. Since the 1970's, her laboratory has in particular played a major role in characterizing the properties of the enzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase and since 1993 has broadened to include studies of the role of mutations in CuZnSOD in causing familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science with a joint appointment in electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. She holds the Jon Postel Chair in Computer Networks, and is founding director of the NSF-funded Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS). In 1987, Estrin received the National Science Foundation, Presidential Young Investigator Award for her research in network interconnection and security. During the subsequent 10 years much of her research focused on the design of network and routing protocols for very large, global, networks, such as: scalable multicast routing and transport protocols, self-configuring protocol mechanisms for scalability and robustness, and tools and methods for designing and studying large scale networks. Since the late 1990's, Estrin has been collaborating with her colleagues and students to develop protocols and systems architectures needed to realize rapidly-deployable and robustly-operating systems of physically-embedded devices.

Debora Shuger, a professor in UCLA's English Department since 1989, who works on the devotional poetry and prose of 16th and 17th century England, as well as the theology, legal history, and political thought of the period. Her most recent books are "Censorship and Cultural Sensibility: The Regulation of Language in Tudor-Stuart England" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) and "Political Theologies in Shakespeare's England (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)."

Michael Colacurcio, a distinguished professor of English, specializes in American intellectual and literary history to 1900 and authority on the literature of the American Puritans and the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Terence Parsons, a professor of linguists and philosophy, who is interested in the semantics of regular spoken language as well as in medieval theories of semantics and the history of logic. He has written about the 20th century logicians and philosophers Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell as well as his own investigations into truth and meaning.

Edward L. (Ned) Wright, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, the scientist whose research is most cited in the field of cosmic microwave background radiation. He is principal investigator of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE, wise.astro.ucla.edu), which will scan the entire sky in infrared light to reveal nearby cool stars, planetary "construction zones" and the brightest galaxies in the universe. Wright said that 99 percent of the sky has not been observed yet with this kind of sensitivity, and that the survey should be able to find and observe at least 100 million galaxies and hundreds of nearby cool stars that are currently unknown. Wright, as part of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) team, shared the 2006 Gruber Cosmology Prize with John Mather, chief scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope for their research confirming that our universe was born in a hot Big Bang. The instruments aboard COBE, launched in 1989, looked back over 13 billion years to the early universe. Wright is also working on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP, map.gsfc.nasa.gov), which is continuing the studies started with COBE.

An independent policy research center, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current academy research focuses on science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education.

The academy will welcome this year's new class at its annual Induction Ceremony on October 6, at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

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