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Nine UCR Faculty Members Elected AAAS Fellows;Campus ties with MIT for Tops in the Nation


Nine UCR Faculty Members Elected AAAS Fellows;Campus ties with MIT for Tops in the Nation

(November 15, 1999)

Nine faculty members at the University of California, Riverside have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor that recognizes their career efforts to advance science or to foster applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

UCR and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led all other universities in the number of new AAAS fellows elected in 1999. It is the fifth year that UCR has led or shared the lead for the greatest number of fellows.

Over the last five years, 51 UCR faculty members have been elected to AAAS fellowship, one of the most distinguished honors in the scientific community.

This year's AAAS fellows are: Steve Angle, professor of chemistry and associate dean for physical and mathematical sciences; John C. Baez, professor of mathematics; Gerardo Beni, professor of electrical engineering; Howard S. Friedman, professor of psychology; David Funder, professor of psychology; J. William Gary, professor of physics; Joe Norbeck, Yeager Families Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology; David H. Warren, executive vice chancellor and professor of psychology; and Marlene Zuk, professor of biology.

"This recognition of UCR's faculty is another statement about the breadth of scholarly excellence on campus," said Harry W. Green II, UCR vice chancellor for research. "These scholars have risen to the forefront of their fields with their innovative ideas, their search for knowledge to validate those ideas and their dedication to research and teaching."

They are among 283 fellows elected this year. The AAAS, publisher of the weekly journal Science, is the world's largest federation of scientists, numbering 143,000 members. It was founded in 1848.

New AAAS fellows at UCR and their expertise

Steven R. Angle, who joined UCR in 1986, was recognized for his laboratory's work in developing new methods for synthesizing complex organic molecules, particularly those that may be useful in medical applications. Angle was awarded a Sloan Fellowship for 1993 to 1997 for research on cancer-treating chemotherapy agents and the design of new anti-cancer compounds with fewer side effects. In 1991, he received UCR's Distinguished Teaching Award. In addition to his teaching and research, Angle serves as an associate dean for in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, providing leadership on curriculum and programmatic issues for the physical and mathematical sciences.

John C. Baez is a world-renowned scientist in the area of mathematical physics. Collaborating with physicists at the Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Pennsylvania State University, Baez is working to develop a theory of gravity that takes into account quantum mechanics, which describes the structure and behavior of microscopic objects such as atoms and molecules. Einstein's general theory of relativity describes gravity well at large distance scales, but it neglects quantum effects. Baez is especially concerned with developing the mathematical tools needed for a theory of quantum gravity. Quantum gravity should play an important role in the behavior of extremely strong gravitational fields, such as those, which occur near the center of a black hole.

Gerardo Beni, a co-founder of the Journal of Robotic Systems, was cited for his innovative and multi-disciplinary research contributions in robotics and multimedia systems. He is particularly renowned in the area of distributed robotic systems, the coupling of more than one autonomous machine to perform tasks, and the development of multimedia systems for such applications as crime scene reconstruction and literacy education. Prior to joining UCR in 1991, Beni was a faculty member at UC Santa Barbara where he helped establish the National Science Foundation Research Center in Robotic Systems for Microelectronics, which included a "robotics clinic" where students could get practical, hands-on training on real-world industry projects.

Howard S. Friedman is widely considered one of the founders of the health psychology discipline. A professor at UCR for more than 20 years, Friedman was the first psychologist to uncover the link between depression and heart disease and the first to document associations between childhood personality traits, such as conscientiousness, and longevity. He is also widely recognized for his pioneering studies of nonverbal communication. Friedman is the author or editor of eight books, including the recent three-volume "Encyclopedia of Mental Health," which was named "Best Reference Source of 1998" by Library Journal. He recently received the 1999 Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology award from the American Psychological Association. In 1995, Friedman received UCR's Distinguished Teaching Award.

David C. Funder was recently named one of the 60 most influential figures of all time in the field of personality psychology. Compiled by psychologists at Princeton University and the University of New Hampshire, the list also includes such famous psychologists as Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner. Funder's research over the last 20 years has pursued two avenues -- the importance of individual personality differences versus situational factors in determining how people act and react, and the accuracy of people's judgments of the personalities of others and how accurately people perceive themselves. His research, which is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests than many of the impressions people have of each other are surprisingly accurate.

J. William Gary is a physicist studying interactions between elementary particles. He was cited for contributions to the experimental study of the strong interaction, the force responsible for the stability of atomic nuclei. Gary, who joined UCR in 1991, performs his research at a high energy particle accelerator located at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics near Geneva, Switzerland. There, he studies jets of elementary particles called quarks and gluons, which are created in high energy particle collisions. He pioneered investigations that established clear differences between the properties of quark and gluon jets, an important prediction of the theory.

Joe Norbeck, also founding director of UCR's College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), was cited for his scientific contributions in understanding urban and regional air quality. CE-CERT has established itself as an "honest broker" providing unbiased research to guide environmental regulation and evaluate new environmentally friendly technologies. The center's wide-ranging research program encompasses developing autonomous vehicles, converting biomass such as yard waste into vehicle fuel, modeling how pollutants behave chemically in the atmosphere and improving alternative-fueled vehicles. He has published more than 65 scientific papers on such topics as atmospheric modeling, vehicle emissions and advanced vehicle technology. Prior to joining UCR in 1992, he was head of the chemistry department at Ford Motor Co.

David H. Warren was recognized for research on the impact of blindness in child development. He is one of the world's experts on childhood blindness and has authored two books on the subject -- "Blindness and Early Childhood Development" and "Blindness and Children: An Individual Differences Approach." Both books have had a significant impact on current research, and the latter has had a positive impact in raising expectations about the potential that blind children can accomplish. In the early 1990s, Warren served as a consultant to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was examining the legality and morality of antipersonnel laser weapons that would render soldiers blind. The effort resulted in the introduction of a resolution to the United Nations to ban such weapons under international law.

Marlene Zuk's research focuses on the importance of parasites in the selection of mates by females of an animal species. In a controversial 1982 paper in Science -- now considered a seminal study on the ecological and evolutionary role of parasites -- Zuk and a colleague presented evidence for their theory that secondary sexual traits, such as the showy plumage of male birds of many species, evolved as indicators of good health and resistance to disease. Females who choose mates with those attributes have a better chance of producing offspring that will also be more resistant to disease. The work earned Zuk the National Science Foundation's Young Investigator Award for 1992 through 1997.


The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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