9 UC Berkeley faculty members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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The American Academy of Arts and Sciences recently elected nine UC Berkeley faculty members to join its ranks for their research in fields such as computer science, economics and chemistry.

One of America’s oldest independent policy research centers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected professors Eric Brewer, Bruce Buffett, James Demmel, Rosemary Gillespie, Hilary Hoynes, Robert Levenson, Eliot Quataert, Dean Toste and Birgitta Whaley to join its class of 2018.

Campus professor emeritus of computer science Brewer researches large-scale computing, which he said involves using multiple small commodity machines rather than a large computer to provide internet service. Brewer said he has installed Wi-Fi systems in developing countries and is responsible for building the first search engine for the U.S. government.

Brewer added that it was a “remarkable honor” to be chosen for the award, as there are few computer scientists elected to the institution.

Buffett, a campus professor of earth and planetary science, studies the Earth’s magnetic fields and methane hydrates, or lattices of ice containing methane.

“People used to blame methane clathrates for outrageous things like the Bermuda Triangle and ice age terminations,” Buffett said. “There were these wide speculations, so we got interested and investigated the validity of some of them.”

Demmel, professor of mathematics and chair of the electrical engineering and computer sciences department, has developed flexible, high-performing linear algorithm software and is a prominent leader in computational science and numerical algorithms.

Campus professor of environmental science, policy and management Gillespie researches adaptive radiation and the early stages of organism diversification, primarily in Pacific islands. She said receiving the award was a “tremendous honor.”

Hoynes, a campus professor of economics and public policy, focuses on economic inequality and the impact of government programs on low-income families. She also co-edits the American Economic Review, one of the country’s leading economic journals.

Campus professor of psychology Levenson is an expert in topics including emotional regulation and marital relationships, and he researches how factors such as age, gender, culture and pathology correlate with emotional interactions. His primary ongoing study analyzes the long-term marriages of middle-aged and elderly partners.

Quataert, a campus professor of astronomy and physics and the director of UC Berkeley’s Theoretical Astrophysics Center, focuses his research on theoretical astrophysics.

“This means I know some math but don’t know how to use telescopes!” Quataert said in an email.

Toste and Whaley are both campus professors of chemistry. Toste researches catalysts and their reactions and organic synthesis methods, as well as the chemistry of bacterial fermentation products. Whaley’s research focuses on quantum physics and molecular quantum mechanics, specifically in relation to biology.

Many of the elected faculty members said they were honored to have been chosen for the award.

“I was excited and honored to be recognized by my colleagues in this way,” Quataert said.

Contact Yao Huang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Yhoneplus.