Tuesday, January 16, 2007

UC Davis Math Professor Wins Award & Six Professors Elected Fellows of AAAS

University of California, Davis
January 16, 2007

Recent Honors
* Math Professor Wins Award
* Six Professors Elected Fellows of AAAS


Craig Tracy, professor of mathematics, and Harold Widom of UC Santa Cruz will share the 2007 Norbert Wiener Prize in Applied Mathematics, presented jointly by the American Mathematical Society and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

The Norbert Wiener Prize is presented "for an outstanding contribution to applied mathematics in the highest and broadest sense." The $5,000 prize was instituted in 1967 and is awarded only every three years.

Tracy and Widom were honored for their work on random matrix theory, which allows mathematicians to measure the probability of events that are dependent on each other. Random matrix theory has turned out to have wide applications in statistics, physics and engineering, ranging from card shuffling problems to climate change and wireless communications.

Tracy earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1967 and a doctorate in physics from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, in 1973. He has been a professor of mathematics at UC Davis since 1984 and chaired the Department of Mathematics from 1994 to 1998.

In 2002, Tracy and Widom shared the $20,000 George Polya Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for their work, and in 2006 they were both elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The prize was presented Jan. 6 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans.

Media contact(s):
* Craig Tracy, Mathematics, (530) 754-6769, tracy@math.ucdavis.edu
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu



Six UC Davis faculty members have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among
449 fellows honored this year for their efforts to advance science or its applications. The new fellows will be formally honored in a ceremony at the annual meeting of the society in San Francisco, March 17.

Robert Gilbertson

Plant pathology professor Robert Gilbertson is an authority on plant diseases caused by seedborne viruses, bacteria and fungi. His research program currently is focused on molecular genetic analysis of two groups of viruses known as geminiviruses and potyviruses. His lab is particularly interested in how these plant viruses move and how virus resistance might be genetically engineered in plants.
Gilbertson's research has had practical implications for cultivation of a number of crops, including tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery and lettuce. He and colleagues successfully used biotechnology and pest management tools to re-establish the Dominican Republic's tomato processing industry after it was wiped out by a deadly tomato virus during the 1990s.

John Harada

John Harada is a professor in the Section of Plant Biology and the Center for Genetics and Development, College of Biological Sciences.
He is interested in how plants reproduce through seeds and embryos, and was recognized by the AAAS for "distinguished contributions to the study of plant development through pioneering work on seed development and leadership in graduate education."

His laboratory has identified genes that can cause some plants to produce embryos from vegetative tissue, without sexual reproduction, implicating these genes as key regulators of embryo development.
These genes may eventually be used to radically change breeding practices in agriculture.

Chris van Kessel

Agronomist Chris van Kessel is professor and chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. His lab conducts research focused on the basic concepts and principles behind agricultural ecosystems, in order to understand how food can be produced more efficiently and sustainably.

He has a particular interest in soil fertility, nutrient cycling, cropping systems and landscape-scale agronomy. His current research projects are examining phosphorus fertility in rice production systems, the uptake and efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer using various application methods, and carbon and nitrogen dynamics in both tilled and conservation-tilled agricultural ecosystems.

Hans-Georg Muller

Professor Hans-Georg Muller, Department of Statistics, studies statistical theory and methodology, data analysis and applied statistics, especially in biology. The association cited his "distinguished research in functional data analysis, semiparametic modeling and smoothing, and important applications of statistics to demography, genetics, ecology, evolution, epidemiology, nutrition, and medicine." His work is important for analyzing time courses, longitudinal data and biological trajectories, and helps to quantify and understand growth and aging.

Muller is also a highly cited researcher in the mathematics category (Institute for Scientific Information), an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, fellow of the American Statistical Association, and fellow of the World Innovation Foundation.

Pamela Ronald

Pamela Ronald, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, was honored for "distinguished service to the field of plant innate immunity, and for establishing creative methods for sharing benefits of biotechnology with less developed countries." Ronald heads the Plant Genomics Program and studies the role that genes play in plants' response to their environment.

She is especially interested in rice, the staple food of half the world's population. Her laboratory has produced rice strains genetically modified to resist diseases and flooding. In 1996, Ronald founded the Genetic Resources Recognition fund, a UC Davis program to share benefits of biotechnology with less developed countries.

Susan Williams

Susan Williams, director of UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, is an authority on the nutrient cycles, plant-animal interactions and restoration biology of near-shore marine communities, particularly seagrasses, seaweeds, coral reefs and invasive species.

The association said Williams was elected on the basis of her "distinguished contributions to biological sciences, especially physiological ecology of seagrasses and marine algae, and for contributions to public understanding of the importance of biodiversity." She is one of only 300 fellows of the California Academy of Sciences.

Media contact(s):
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu

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