Neil Shubin, Pier Oddone elected to National Academy of Sciences

Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Pier Oddone, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, have been elected members of the National Academy of Sciences, the organization announced May 3.

Shubin’s research on the evolution of limb development has taken him from hunting fossils in the Canadian Arctic to exploring the genes of salamander and shark embryos in his campus laboratory. In 2004, Shubin and his team discovered the pivotal fossil named Tiktaalik roseae, a transitional species between ancient fish and the first legged animals. The discovery inspired Shubin’s 2008 book Your Inner Fish: A Journey Through the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, which has won science-writing awards from Phi Beta Kappa, the Library Journal and the National Academy of Sciences.

A John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow, Shubin earned a PhD in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 1987 and joined the University of Chicago as chairman of Organismal Biology & Anatomy in 2001. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Oddone has been director of Fermilab since 2005. Before assuming his current post, Oddone was director of the physics division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and served as deputy director of that lab for 15 years. He invented the Symmetric B-Factory, a new kind of elementary particle collider to study differences between matter and antimatter — an innovation for which he received the 2005 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in experimental physics from the American Physical Society. He also is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“It’s really a great honor to become part of such a distinguished group of scientists,” Oddone said. “Research in particle physics is a team effort, and I owe much to my many collaborators through the years."

The National Academy of Sciences was created in 1863 by an act of Congress signed by Abraham Lincoln, intended to act as an official adviser to the federal government in any matter of science or technology. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors afforded a U.S. scientist. Seventy-two new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries were announced this year, in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.