Four University of Chicago faculty members and a scientist at the affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., have been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The new academy members are Jeffrey Harvey, the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor in Physics; Carlos Kenig, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics; Lucia Rothman-Denes, professor of molecular genetics and cell biology; Dam Thanh Son, University Professor in Physics; and Jerry Melillo, distinguished scientist and director emeritus of the MBL’s Ecosystems Center. Additionally, UChicago alumni who have been elected members of the Academy this year are Charles Lewis Kane, AB’85, and Martin Matthew Matzuk, AB’82. These members are among 84 new inductees that the academy announced April 29.
Jeffrey Harvey is a theoretical physicist who studies the behavior of the most fundamental particles in nature. Much of his work focuses on string theory and particle physics, although he also maintains interests in mathematics, condensed matter physics (the physics of liquids and solids) and cosmology. Strings are theoretical objects that may help explain how the four fundamental forces of nature—gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces—fit together, and give a promising framework for understanding the quantum behavior of gravity. His honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and from UChicago a Graduate Teaching Award and the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
Carlos Kenig, SM’75, PhD’78, works in the field of analysis: a major branch of mathematics that includes calculus and other techniques often applied to scientific problems. His contributions to harmonic analysis, partial differential equations and nonlinear dispersive partial differential equations earned him the 2008 Maxime Bôcher Memorial Prize of the American Mathematical Society. Kenig became an inaugural fellow of the AMS in 2012 and also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Harmonic analysis, an outgrowth of the research of Joseph Fourier nearly two centuries ago, can be applied to the study of heat, light and other phenomena involving wave motion. Kenig principally studies partial differential equations and one of their subclasses, nonlinear dispersive equations, which describe various aspects of such phenomena.
Lucia Rothman-Denes is best known for pioneering a novel system to study how bacterial viruses take over the molecular processes of their hosts. Combining genetic, biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches, her work has yielded fundamental insights into viral-host interactions and identified new mechanisms for gene expression. Her lab now focuses on discovering new targets for antibacterials. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. She has shown remarkable dedication as a teacher and mentor since she joined UChicago in 1974, and her outstanding mentorship of both graduate and undergraduate students in her laboratory has cultivated the careers of numerous successful scientists.
Dam Thanh Son’s research has demonstrated the links between such seemingly unrelated areas of physics as nuclear physics and black holes. His interests also range across atomic, condensed matter, nuclear and particle physics. Son gained international prominence for his application of ideas from string theory to the understanding of nuclear matter under high temperature and high density—conditions generated in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Last year Son became a Simons Investigator, which will provide him with $500,000 of support over five years. Son is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received fellowships from the American Physical Society and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Jerry Melillo’s research team at the MBL focuses on understanding the impacts of human activities on ecological systems using a combination of field studies and simulation modeling. His field studies include two soil-warming experiments at the Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts. Melillo and his associates have developed and used a simulation model, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model, to consider the impacts of various aspects of global change (climate, chemistry of the atmosphere and precipitation, land cover and land use). TEM is part of the Integrated Global Systems Model, an integrated assessment model, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Melillo also chaired the federal advisory committee that prepared the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment for release this spring.
Joining Melillo as new Academy members are 13 other scientists who are affiliated with MBL.