4 Berkeley Lab scientists named American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, named four scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, or Berkeley Lab — three of whom are UC Berkeley faculty — as fellows Tuesday.

Allen Goldstein, Sung-Hou Kim, Katherine Yelick and Susannah Tringe were elected by their peers for “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications (that) are scientifically or socially distinguished.” The AAAS describes itself as the world’s largest general scientific society and publishes the journal Science.

“It’s a real honor knowing I was elected by fellow scientists,” Tringe said. “I was surprised because I think of it as something for people who are later on in their career, or for people who are more well-known than I consider myself.”

Goldstein is a campus professor in the department of environmental science, policy and management and the department of civil and environmental engineering, as well as a faculty chemist at Berkeley Lab. Goldstein leads the Goldstein Group research team, which studies atmospheric chemistry and the chemistry of man-made air pollutants according to Robin Weber, lab manager and instrumentation specialist at the Goldstein Group.

Goldstein was named a fellow for his “distinguished contributions to the field of chemistry and emissions of natural and anthropogenic trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere,” according to Berkeley Lab’s website.

Weber has worked with Goldstein for almost nine years and said he admired Goldstein’s intelligence and personability.

“Allen Goldstein is very special because he combines the near-certainty that he is the smartest guy in the room with a really good intuitive feeling for people,” Weber said.

Yelick, a campus professor of electrical engineering and computer science and the associate laboratory director for computing sciences at Berkeley Lab, was recognized for “significant research contributions to programming languages, compilers, and parallel computing, and for exceptional service to the computing research community,” according to Berkeley Lab’s website.

Yelick’s research involves parallel and high-performance computing, or putting many computers together for applications including running large simulations, and making those resources more accessible to scientists across a suite of disciplines, according to Yelick.

Tringe is the deputy for User Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, or JGI, and leads the Microbial Systems group at JGI, which is operated by Berkeley Lab. Tringe was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the study of microbial genomics, particularly in connection to plant microbiomes, and for leadership in providing community access to biotechnology resources,” according to Berkeley Lab’s website.

Tringe’s research involves sequencing DNA taken from microbial communities to study their makeup and function. This information reveals the impact of those communities on, for example, carbon cycling, or the growth of larger organisms such as plants or humans.

Kim, a campus professor of graduate studies and professor emeritus in the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, was recognized for his “landmark discovery of the structures of t-RNA, H-Ras and B-Raf, and for the mapping of the protein structure and genome sequence universes,” according to Berkeley Lab’s website. Kim’s research involves determining the three-dimensional structure of molecules.

Kim’s work mapping the structure of two types of proteins — one of which is involved in signaling cell growth — have already led to a drug that can target mutated cells that cause human cancer, according to Kim. Kim’s group has also determined the shape of t-RNA, which is involved in decoding genetic information.

Kim’s second research area is more conceptual and involves mapping proteins and genomes to shed light on the origins of life.

“Everybody has that question in their head: Where did life come from?” Kim said. “To me it’s a natural curiosity. I’m still curious.”

Sam Levin covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.