SAN FRANCISCO (August 5, 2011) — The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 15 new members have joined the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of around 300 distinguished scientists who have made notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows remain members of the Fellowship for life. The new Fellows will be inducted during the Fellowship’s next meeting on October 11, 2011. They will join the ranks of such well-known Academy Fellows as Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, Peter Raven, and Jill Tarter.
During the meeting, the Fellowship will also present one of its members with the Academy’s highest honor: the Fellows’ Medal. This award is given to especially prominent scientists who have made outstanding contributions to their specific scientific fields. Medalists are nominated each year by the Academy Fellows and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. This year’s honoree is Dr. John S. Pearse from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition, the Fellows will present Dr. Jean DeMouthe, Senior Collections Manager for the Academy’s geology department, with a Distinguished Service Medal. Brief biographies for each of the new Fellows and awardees are included below.
New Academy Fellows
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. David Ackerly is a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studies the functional diversity of terrestrial plants in the context of both community ecology and phylogenetic history. His research emphasizes the woody plants of the California flora—especially the chaparral shrub community—as a model system for the study of functional morphology, ecological strategies, and adaptive evolution. His work has been published in nearly 100 publications, and continues to be highly referenced in regards to climate change prediction models.
Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged is curator and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and has graduate students at UCD, University of South Florida, and Addis Ababa University. His research focuses on the discovery and interpretation of hominid fossils, with an emphasis on fieldwork designed to discover new early hominid skeletal biology and behavior. To this end, he employs new techniques such as CT analysis. He is also founder of the East African Association for Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and has been Director of the internationally funded Dikika Research Project in Afar, Ethiopia for the past 11 years.
Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Gibor Basri is a Professor of Astronomy and founding Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley. He deeply encourages the participation of minorities in science. He is a world leader in astronomical research, and is one of the world’s experts on "brown dwarfs"—failed stars that are intermediate in mass between stars and planets. He uses spectroscopic studies to learn more about magnetic fields, stellar activity, and the evolution of angular momentum in the different kinds of objects he studies. He is a Co-Investigator on NASA's Kepler mission, which is already starting to discover extra-solar terrestrial planets. His main task is to understand the "noise" that stellar variability introduces into the photometric detection of extrasolar planetary transits.
Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University
Dr. Kent Carpenter is a professor of biological sciences at Old Dominion University. His study of the diversity of fishes of the Coral Triangle has clearly established the Philippines—and the Verde Island Passage, in particular—as the center of marine diversity. He is deeply committed to marine conservation in the Philippines and has worked tirelessly to promote the sustainable use of marine resources in the Philippines and beyond. As manger of the IUCN Red List Criteria, he is completing the first global review of every marine vertebrate species—and selected marine invertebrates and plants—to determine their conservation status and extinction risk. He is the author of A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes from Maine to Texas.
Romberg Tiburon Center, San Francisco State University
Dr. Sarah Cohen’s research focuses on how ecological, behavioral, and environmental features shape evolution and genetic systems in diverse organisms. Currently, she utilizes genetic tools to estimate population linkages, evolution of contaminant tolerance, distribution of parasites, and immunogenetic variation in estuarine and marine species. She is an Associate Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University’s marine laboratory, the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies.
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Donald Croll employs science to identify and prioritize conservation problems, working with agencies and NGOs to develop and test cost-effective solutions. His primary research focuses on the ecology and conservation of marine mammals and seabirds, and the habitats upon which they depend. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit group Island Conservation, as well as the Wind to Whales program—the seminal program of the MBNMS Center for Integrative Marine Technologies (CIMT). Within CIMT, he specializes in the examination of how physical and biological factors explain and ultimately may be used to predict the distribution of large, highly mobile marine predators.
Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of California, San Francisco
A physician by training, Bruce R. Conklin, M.D., is a senior investigator on multiple research grants from NIH and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease. An Associate Director of the Gladstone CIRM Scholars Training Program, he uses receptor engineering and stem cell biology to understand basic pharmacological responses. He focuses on the largest known family of receptors for hormones and drugs, called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). From 1995 to 2001, Conklin was the Associate Director of the General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital. He is a member of several honorary societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Conklin is the founder of several public stem cell and genomics projects including BayGenomics, GenMAPP, and WikiPathways.
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Todd Dawson is a professor in the Integrative Biology Department and Director of the Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. His multifaceted research initiatives center on the use of different physiological approaches to understanding adaptation and distribution. His research techniques, using stable isotope biogeochemistry and remote sensing, have led to many important breakthroughs in understanding the role of fog in the physiology and transport of water in coastal redwoods.
Frank Drake (Honorary Fellow)
Dr. Frank Drake is the Director of the SETI Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. For over 50 years, he has been asking, “What are the chances of life existing outside our universe?” This question led Drake to formulate an equation that quantifies the likelihood of intelligent life—communicating civilizations in our galaxy. Drake’s Equation states that it is possible to theorize about the existence of intelligent life by focusing on known factors, such as the rate of formation of suitable stars (such as our Sun). The highly respected equation has led to other groundbreaking work in the field of astronomy. He participates in an ongoing search for optical signals of intelligent origin, carried out with colleagues from Lick Observatory and the University of California at Berkeley, using the 40-inch Nickel telescope at Lick. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences where he chaired the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council (1989-92). Drake also served as President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He was a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University (1964-84) and served as the Director of the Arecibo Observatory. He is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences.
Department of Zoology, Oregon State University
Dr. David R. Maddison is Professor of Entomology and Curator of the Insect Collection at Oregon State University, Corvallis. His research focuses on the evolution of beetles, and developing methods and software for phylogenetic analysis. He is celebrated for his role as co-developer of some of the most significant and widely used tools in contemporary systematics for developing, analyzing, preserving, and disseminating data on evolutionary biology and systematics—namely MacClade, Mesquite, and the website Tree of Life, a collaborative Internet effort that seeks to create an illustrated, annotated phylogeny of all living things, including both the branches (clades) and the leaves (species).
Department of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Charles Marshall is a director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. He is an advocate of collections-based learning and is a leader in geoinformatics, the science and technology that develops and uses information science infrastructure to address the problems of geography, geosciences, and related branches of engineering. His research focuses on the development of new tools for understanding how biodiversity changes on geologic timescales, and on how molecular phylogenetic data and the fossil record might be used synergistically to understand the processes responsible for changes in diversity.
Department of Human Evolutionary Genetics and Epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Risch is the Lamond Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Human Genetics, Director of the Institute for Human Genetics, and Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF. Risch’s research focuses on understanding the links between human population history and disease susceptibility, combining population genetics and clinical application of disease treatments. He has collaborated with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research for the past eight years on population-based genetics. He has contributed significantly to our understanding of the genetic basis of Parkinson’s disease, hemochromatosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, autism, epilepsy, and hypertension.
University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley
Judy Scotchmoor is the Assistant Director of Education and Public Programs at the University of California Museum of Paleontology. She is an innovative science educator whose contributions include the websites Understanding Evolution, Understanding Science, and PaleoPortal. She also co-founded the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), a national organization celebrating science. In her quest to stretch the reach of science, Scotchmoor has worked with closely with the Academy’s education and outreach teams for over 15 years.
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University
Dr. Kimberly Tanner is an Associate Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University. She developed the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL), which facilitates and investigates the impact of scientist-teacher partnerships as a mechanism for science education reform, wherein faculty and graduate students partner with K-12 teachers in the classroom and laboratory to augment the science experience pre-college students obtain. Most recently she received a National Science Foundation Career Award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education activities, and the integration of education and research.
James C. Zachos
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. James Zachos studies marine environments in Earth’s past by analyzing evidence in the layers of sediments deposited on the seafloor. A Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he and his students use the chemical compositions of fossils and other clues to reconstruct climate conditions and ocean chemistry during past episodes of extreme climates. His research zeros in on the major climate shifts during the past 65 million years, such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This work is highly relevant to understanding how human activities are driving modern-day global climate change.
Recipient of the 2011 Fellows’ Medal
John S. Pearse
Department of Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. John S. Pearse’s research examines the timing of reproduction of marine invertebrates. His research has taken him from Antartica to Bermuda. Although he retired in 1994, he continues to teach, conduct research, and write as a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Institute of Marine Sciences. While he no longer sponsors graduate students in biology, he still co-sponsors students and serves on committees in both biology and ocean sciences. Pearse, his wife Vicki Pearse (also an Academy Fellow), and father Ralph Buchsbaum are revising the invertebrate zoology textbook Living Invertebrates, which was published in 1987. He is currently serving as Program Officer for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, an international society especially concerned with promoting student careers in organismic biology.
Recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Service Medal
Department of Geology, California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Jean DeMouthe is a geologist in the department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology. She has worked for the Academy since October 1973, starting out as a part-time curatorial assistant and working her way up to her present position of Senior Collections Manager for Geology. Her responsibilities for the Academy’s geology collection include the organization, documentation, and storage of several million specimens, including fossils, microfossils, minerals, gemstones, and meteorites. She frequently contributes to exhibits and education programs at the Academy. DeMouthe teaches museum studies courses in collections care and conservation. She is an active member of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, where she is a member of the executive board and managing editor of their publications.
About the California Academy of Sciences
The Academy is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of Earth’s living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It conducts research in 12 scientific fields: anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, comparative genomics, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, microbiology, and ornithology. Visit research.calacademy.org.