California Academy of Sciences welcomes new Fellows

California Academy of Sciences welcomes new Fellows © 2008 Tim Griffith


SAN FRANCISCO (October 9, 2020) – The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 14 new members will join the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of more than 450 distinguished scientists and other leaders who have made notable contributions to science or science education and communication. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows are partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the Academy mission to explore, explain, and sustain life. The new members will be inducted during the Fellowship's next virtual meeting on October 13, 2020. They will join such well-known Academy Fellows as Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich, Jane Lubchenco, Zeray Alemseged, John McCosker, Jill Tarter, and Andrea Ghez.

During the meeting, the Fellowship will present one of its members with the Academy’s highest honor: the Fellows Medal. This honor 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 Fellows Medal will be awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a molecular biologist and biochemist who has made tremendous scientific contributions to our understanding of cell division and DNA replication. She won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres—the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information—and for co-discovering the enzyme telomerase, which maintains telomere ends. Blackburn is also a champion for diversity and inclusion in the sciences, and in 2007 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

The fellowship will also present the Distinguished Service Award, an honor that is given to scientists, staff, or other colleagues who have made critical contributions to the Academy itself. This year’s award recipient is James Shevock, who retired in 2009 from a career in public service with the U.S. National Forest Service and the National Park Service. He has contributed over 57,000 botanical specimens to the Academy herbarium, and has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers that help amplify the scientific impact of the Academy’s research and collections.

Brief biographies for the Fellows Medalist and Distinguished Service Awardee as well as each of the new Fellows are included below.

Recipient of the 2020 Fellows Medal

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD
Professor Emerita
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of California, San Francisco

Throughout her long career in science, Dr. Blackburn has been a leader in researching cell division and DNA replication. She discovered the molecular nature of telomeres—the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information—and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase, which maintains telomere ends. She is also known for her championing of diversity and inclusion in the sciences. Currently, Blackburn and her UCSF research team work with various cells, including human cells, with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology. She and her research team also collaborate in a wide range of investigations of the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases through clinical and other human studies.

Born in Australia, Blackburn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Melbourne, and her PhD from the University of Cambridge in England. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at Yale University. Blackburn has won many prestigious awards throughout her career including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research, and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2007.

Recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award

James R. Shevock, MS
Fellow and Research Associate

Department of Botany
California Academy of Sciences

Mr. Shevock was appointed as an Academy Research Associate in the botany department in 1983. He retired in 2009 from a public service career with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. He has contributed over 57,000 botanical specimens to the Academy herbarium, and focuses the majority of his research on China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and co-authored a book titled California Mosses. Six flowers and seven mosses are named in his honor including two moss genera discovered in China: Rheoshevockia and Shevockia. Shevock has been an Academy Fellows since 2007.

New Academy Fellows

Rebecca Albright, PhD
Patterson Scholar and Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Zoology
California Academy of Sciences

Dr. Albright’s research focuses on the ability of coral reefs to cope with changing environmental conditions. She has worked in academic, government, and nonprofit settings and has studied reefs around the world, from the Florida Keys to the Great Barrier Reef. She works across scales (single cells to reef-scale) and disciplines (biology, ecology, biogeochemistry) to foster a systems-level understanding of how coral reefs will fare in today's changing world. Albright’s passion for community engagement has been fostered by years working with nonprofits and citizen science organizations focusing on educating communities about coral reef conservation and management.

Paul Barber, PhD
Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Barber is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. He earned a PhD in integrative biology from UC Berkeley and spent 3 years at Harvard University as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. Barber integrates genetics, genomics, ecology, and oceanography to understand the evolution and conservation of marine biodiversity. He is committed to diversifying science and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, the UCLA Diversity Equity and Inclusion Award, and the SACNAS Distinguished Student Mentor Award. In 2017, he was named an HHMI Professor.

Steven Beissinger, PhD
Professor of Ecology and Conservation Biology
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Beissinger is professor of ecology & conservation biology at UC Berkeley, where he held the Leopold Chair in Wildlife Biology, is a research associate of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and is co-director of the Berkeley Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity. His research centers on wildlife responses to global change and species’ extinctions. He has authored over 200 scientific publications and edited three books. Beissinger is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ecological Society of America, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and American Ornithological Society, which recognized his research with the William Brewster Memorial Award.

Troy Daniels, DDS
Professor Emeritus, Orofacial Sciences, School of Dentistry
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Daniels is a San Francisco native, graduating from the UCSF School of Dentistry in 1967. He then completed a U.S. Public Health Service Internship in New Orleans and served in Alaska, providing dental care in Nome and surrounding native villages. In 1973, after completing a National Cancer Institute Fellowship, he joined the UCSF faculty with NIH-supported research and a joint appointment at the UCSF School of Medicine. Until retirement a few years ago, his work focused on both oral cancer and Sjogren’s syndrome, a systemic autoimmune disease affecting the mouth.

Robert Dudley, PhD
Chair and Professor, Integrative Biology
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Dudley was an undergraduate at Duke University and a Marshall Scholar at the University of Cambridge, from which he received a PhD in zoology in 1987. He then lived on Barro Colorado Island in Panama for five years studying butterfly flight physiology, and since then has held faculty appointments first at the University of Texas, Austin, and currently at UC Berkeley. His research interests lie in insect flight biomechanics, comparative physiology, and the evolutionary origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory.

Corey Garza, PhD
Professor of Marine Science, School of Natural Sciences
California State University, Monterey Bay

Dr. Garza is a professor of marine science at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). He researches the use of drones and GIS to study patterns of species distribution in marine systems. He is the director for the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Program, an NSF- and NOAA-funded program that coordinates multiple research and training programs at CSUMB. He is also actively advancing underrepresented groups in science. Garza serves on the National Board of Directors for SACNAS (Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) and the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee for the American Geophysical Union.

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD
Founder and Executive Director, Neuroscape
David Dolby Distinguished Professor, Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Gazzaley is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at UCSF, and the founder and executive director of Neuroscape at UCSF. Gazzaley is co-founder and Chief Science Advisor of Akili Interactive, Sensync, and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has filed multiple patents, authored over 140 scientific articles, and delivered over 675 invited presentations around the world.

Mandë Holford, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemistry
Hunter College

Dr. Holford is an associate professor in chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her research, from mollusks to medicine, examines venoms and venomous animals as agents of change and innovation in evolution and in manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. She is active in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. She co-founded Killer Snails, an award-winning EdTech learning games company. Honors include a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Breakthrough Women in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NPR’s Science Friday, and Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Fellow. Her PhD is from The Rockefeller University.

Jeff Koseff, PhD
William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Professor, School of Engineering and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University

Dr. Koseff joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) in 1984 and served as the founding Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment from 2003 to 2016. Koseff's research in environmental fluid mechanics focuses on the interaction between physical and biological systems in natural aquatic environments. Appointed Chair of CEE in 1995, he assumed the role of Senior Associate Dean of the School of Engineering from 1999 to 2002. He is the recipient of seven teaching awards from Stanford, became a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2015, and received the Richard W. Lyman Award from Stanford University the same year.

Mary McGann, PhD
Research Scientist, Micropaleontology
U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. McGann is a marine microbiologist/ micropaleontologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. Her recent scientific investigations have focused on diverse topics, among them contaminants and ecosystem health, mechanisms and impact of invasive species introductions, sediment transport in estuarine and marine realms, marine geohazards (faulting, landslides, paleo tsunamis, and methane seeps), global climate change (using both foraminifera and palynology), archaeology, whale falls, biodiversity, radiocarbon dating, defining biostratigraphic markers of the Anthropocene, and using molecular sequencing in biological identifications. Her investigations in the U.S. and abroad have furthered our understanding of the natural variability of earth processes and anthropogenic impacts on these systems.

Isabel Montañez, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of California, Davis

Dr. Montañez is a University Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Leadership Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis. Montañez is a paleoclimatologist whose research focuses on geologic archives of past atmospheric gas and ocean geochemical compositions and their linkages to climate and ecosystem changes. She received her PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1990 and has received several awards, including the James Lee Wilson Medal for Excellence by a Young Scientist, the Laurence L. Sloss Award from the Geological Society of America, and the Jean-Baptiste Lamarck Medal from the European Geosciences Union. She is a Fellow of several professional societies and a past Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She served as President of the Geological Society of America from 2017 to 2018.

Ana Christina Ravelo, PhD
Professor, Physical and Biological Sciences, Ocean Sciences, Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Ravelo received a BS in geology and a BA in anthropology from Stanford University and an MS and PhD from Columbia University. She is currently a professor of ocean sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on determining the role of ocean processes in past climate variability, including investigation of climate transitions, warm climate processes, and regional expressions of global climate change. She has held leadership roles at UCSC, the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation panels, the American Geophysical Union, and the International Ocean Discovery Program.

Dawn Summer, PhD
Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of California, Davis

Dr. Sumner earned her BS from the California Institute of Technology and PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech before joining the faculty at UC Davis in 1996. Her research focuses on Earth’s early environments and microbial ecology, emphasizing the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and its environmental effects. Sumner also studies microbial ecology in ice-covered Antarctic lakes as analogs for ancient life on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system, specifically Mars, using data from NASA’s Curiosity rover. She is dedicated to curtailing racism in academic settings.

Noah Whiteman, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Whiteman is an evolutionary biologist — raised deep within Minnesota' boreal forest— whose research combines natural history with molecular biology to study co-evolution between hosts and parasites. His dissertation demonstrated how genomes of parasites can serve as evolutionary heirlooms of endangered Galápagos birds. Whiteman then studied plants as model hosts while an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, followed by faculty appointments at the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley. His team recently used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to retrace how the monarch butterfly evolved to resist toxic host plants. Whiteman is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and NIH Outstanding Investigator.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and education—all under one living roof. When open, our hours are 9:30 am - 5:00 pm Monday - Saturday, and 11:00 am - 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For reopening information, daily ticket prices, and to schedule your visit please go to or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

About Research at the California Academy of Sciences

The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences is at the forefront of efforts to understand two of the most important topics of our time: the nature and sustainability of life on Earth. Based in San Francisco, the Institute is home to more than 100 world-class scientists, state-of-the-art facilities, and nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world. The Institute also leverages the expertise and efforts of more than 100 international Associates and 450 distinguished Fellows. Through expeditions around the globe, investigations in the lab, and analysis of vast biological datasets, the Institute’s scientists work to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of organisms and ecosystems, the threats they face around the world, and the most effective strategies for sustaining them into the future. Through innovative partnerships and public engagement initiatives, they also guide critical sustainability and conservation decisions worldwide, inspire and mentor the next generation of scientists, and foster responsible stewardship of our planet.

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