Public Release: 

California Academy of Sciences welcomes new fellows, bestows annual awards

Award ceremony to take place Oct. 13, 2009

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 12 new members have joined the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of over 300 distinguished scientists who have made notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows remain members of the Fellowship for life. Additionally, the Academy is pleased to welcome nine new Honorary Fellows, who are not part of the institution's governing body, but are important scientific collaborators. These 21 new Fellows and Honorary Fellows will be inducted during the Fellowship's next meeting on October 13, 2009. They will join the ranks of such well-known Academy Fellows as Sylvia Earle, Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, Peter Raven, and Jill Tartar.

During the meeting, the Fellowship will also present two of its members with the Academy's highest honor: the Fellows' Medal. This award is given to especially prominent scientists who have made outstanding contributions to their specific scientific fields. Medalists are nominated each year by the Academy Fellows and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. This year's honorees are Dr. Eugenie Scott from the National Council for Science Education and Dr. Michael Ghiselin, a Senior Research Fellow at the California Academy of Sciences. In addition, the Fellows will present Jens Vindum, the Collections Manager for the Academy's herpetology department, with a Distinguished Service Award. Brief biographies for each of the new Fellows and awardees are included below.

New Academy Fellows

Dr. Jeffery Black
Professor, Department of Wildlife, Humboldt State University
Dr. Black is a highly productive, widely published scientist in the field of conservation and ecology of water fowl. His research focuses on the evolutionary processes affecting the distribution and size of wildlife populations. His approach combines theory, experimentation, and long-term field studies, in collaboration with scholars from around the world. He was chair of the Department of Wildlife at Humboldt State University from 2005 to 2008.

Dr. Frank Cipriano
Director, Conservation Genetics Laboratory, San Francisco State University
Dr. Cipriano is a conservation geneticist with broad interests in evolutionary biology. One focus of his research is the conservation genetics of cetaceans--particularly dolphins and porpoises. Dr. Cipriano's work also centers on molecular forensics and species identification, and the factors influencing evolution, diversification and speciation in marine ecosystems. Dr. Cipriano's laboratory at San Francisco State University hosted the Academy's Center for Comparative Genomics during its transition from the temporary facility on Howard Street to the new Academy in Golden Gate Park.

Dr. Elizabeth Hadly
Associate Professor, Department of Biology & Associate Professor, by courtesy, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
Dr. Hadly is a creative, ground-breaking integrative biologist who has made major contributions to the fields of ecology, paleontology, genetics, and conservation biology. Using Quaternary and extant vertebrates as a study system, her seminal works have included defining and establishing the field of phylochronology--which uses DNA of extinct and modern populations to work out evolutionary relationships through time and across space--and pioneering the use of the fossil record as essential to conservation biology. Her studies have been used to help support the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

Dr. James Harvey
Professor and Chair, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
Dr. Harvey has built a long and distinguished career as a marine biologist focusing on the ecology of birds, mammals, and sea turtles. His contributions include the development of new field methods and statistical analyses that have helped to improve understanding of ecological factors influencing marine vertebrates. He is a leader in marine conservation and education and has chaired the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories since 2007.

Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University
Dr. LeBuhn investigates the role of environmental variation in maintaining genetic and phenotypic variation across populations, and the impacts of habitat change on pollinators and pollination. She is a leader in understanding the effects of climate change on pollinator communities and on how to measure long-term, worldwide changes in these communities. She is creator and director of the Great Sunflower Project, which uses standardized methods and citizen scientists to document trends in pollinator visitation throughout North America

Dr. Rocco Mancinelli
Senior Research Scientist, SETI Institute
Dr. Mancinelli is an internationally recognized expert in the study of extremophiles, and in particular, halophiles (salt-loving bacteria). A common thread of his work is the search for the definitive environmental limits within which life can arise and evolve on planets. He participates in international spaceflight missions to probe the survivability of micro-organisms suffering the stresses of desiccation, UV irradiation, and vacuum exposure. He has exposed microbes to the extreme cold as well as the vacuum and zero gravity found in space, and has shown that some halophiles are able to survive such extreme conditions.

Dr. Jimmy McGuire
Associate Professor and Curator of Herpetology, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. McGuire is a systematist with strong interests in natural history, phylogenetics, biogeography and comparative biology of reptiles, amphibians and hummingbirds. He is recognized for his laboratory skills in molecular systematics and especially for his use and development of analytical methodologies. Current research foci include application of phylogenetic and population genetic methods to understanding the biogeography of Sulawesi, the role of introgressive hybridization in crotaphytid lizard phylogeny, and high-altitude adaptation in hummingbirds.

Dr. David Mindell
Dean of Science and Research, Curator of Ornithology & Mammalogy, California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Mindell has made important contributions to evolutionary biology and systematics of birds, and to the understanding of the coevolution of avian viruses and their hosts. He is a gifted writer and a strong advocate for the importance of knowledge of evolution for a scientifically literate society. His book The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life won the 2007 Independent Publisher book award for best book in the Science Category. As the Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy, he is working to foster greater collaboration between the Academy and other scientific and educational institutions. Previously, Dr. Mindell was Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan and Director of its Museum of Zoology and Herbarium.

Dr. Carl Pilcher
Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute
Dr. Pilcher has made many important contributions as a planetary scientist, including the discovery of "weather" on Neptune, the identification of methane ice as the primary material on the surface of Pluto, and studies of the tenuous sodium atmosphere that continually escapes from Jupiter's moon Io. He also played a key role in the development of the Mars Exploration Program. As Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Dr. Pilcher coordinates the efforts of 14 research teams at universities, research institutes and NASA centers across the country.

Dr. Thomas Powell
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Powell is a leading scientist working at the interface between theoretical and empirical work in marine, estuarine, and freshwater ecosystems. His work focuses on the linkages between physical and biological processes, particularly in the Lake Tahoe and San Francisco Bay systems. He conducted early studies of the effects of climatic phenomena such as El Niño on lake ecosystems, and he has recently performed model investigations of plankton dynamics in the California Current system.

Dr. Seth Shostak
Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute
Dr. Shostak is an astrophysicist and radio astronomer. He has combined a productive science career with great success as a writer, educator, and producer of films and shows for radio and television. He is the 2004 winner of the Klumpke-Roberts Award, given by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. As host of the SETI Institute's weekly radio program Are We Alone? Dr. Shostak interviews guests on topics such as cosmology, physics, genetics, paleontology, evolutionary biology, and astrobiology

Dr. Sharon Strauss
Professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis
Dr. Strauss is an international leader in evolutionary ecology, particularly with respect to the interaction between plants and other types of organisms. Her work is characterized by exceptional experimental design, consideration of multi-species communities and the synergy between evolutionary and ecological processes. She is one of the founders of the field of Community Evolution--unifying population and community ecology, population genetics, biogeography, and phylogenetics.

New Honorary Fellows

Dr. Michael Brown
Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology
Dr. Brown is the leader of a team that has discovered three of the five known dwarf planets in the solar system, as well as many trans-Neptunian worlds that are a bit smaller. His work ultimately led to Pluto's reclassification as a dwarf planet and caused the International Astronomical Union to rethink the way planets are defined. Among his other work in planetary science, Dr. Brown has also done research on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and Europa, the satellite of Jupiter suspected of harboring an ocean under its icy crust. In 2006, he was named by Time magazine as one of the hundred most influential persons in the world.

Dr. Donald Hyneman
Professor Emeritus of Parasitology, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Heyneman is an outstanding scientist who has made major contributions to the study of human parasitology and parasite evolution. He is the former Chairman of the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program in the Health and Medical Sciences, and former Associate Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a California Academy of Sciences Docent and can be found regularly on the public floor of the new Academy.

Dr. Rodney Jackson
Director, Snow Leopard Conservancy
Dr. Jackson is a practicing conservation biologist, respected scientist, and Director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy, a non-profit organization of his own founding. He is internationally recognized as an authority on Himalayan and Central Asian ecology and sustainable practices in alpine communities. With over three decades of experience in wildlife ecology and environmental planning, he is also a leader in the application of culturally informed methods of environmental custodianship.

Dr. Joel Primack
Professor, Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Primack specializes in research on the formation and evolution of galaxies, and on the nature of the dark matter that constitutes most matter in the Universe. He is one of the principal originators and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter, which has become the basis for the standard, modern picture of structure formation in the Universe. Dr. Primack's work also focuses on science and technology policy and on the cultural implications of the ongoing revolution in cosmology.

Dr. Ronald Schusterman
Research Marine Biologist and Adjunct Professor of Ocean Sciences, Institute for Marine Sciences, University of California at Santa Cruz
Professor Emeritus, Biology and Psychology Departments, California State University, East Bay
Dr. Schusterman has been the dominant exponent of studies on the sensory systems, perception, cognition, and communication of marine mammals. He is best known for his work on pinniped cognition, behavior, and communication--particularly in California sea lions. He has also published significant studies of other seals and sea lions. In addition to the time he spends at the UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Laboratory, Dr. Schusterman also writes and teaches at other institutions, including Columbia University, the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation in New York, and the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria.

Dr. Doris Sloan
Adjunct Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Sloan is the foremost authority on the geology of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her research on the Quaternary evolution of San Francisco Bay has contributed to the basic geophysical, paleoclimatic, stratigraphic, and paleobiological understanding of our urban estuary. She was also a guiding force in the establishment of the very successful Environmental Sciences Program at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Hyron Spinrad Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley Dr. Spinrad has had a highly distinguished career as an astronomer with forefront research into mysteries near and far--from comets in the Solar System to the highest, most distant galaxies in the Universe. His work on distant galaxies probed back into the earliest evolution of the Universe. In our Solar System, he has made fundamental discoveries such as the low atmospheric pressure on Mars and the discovery of water on comets and their potential as a source of Earth's water.

Dr. Catherine Tauber
Senior Research Associate, Cornell University (now in active retirement)
Visiting Professor/Scientist/Associate, University of California, Davis

Dr. Maurice Tauber
Graduate School Professor, Cornell University
Visiting Professor/Scientist/Associate, University of California, Davis
Drs. Catherine and Maurine Tauber represent one of the most successful collaborations in the history of entomology--both personally and scientifically. Since meeting in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley they have become leading authorities on the insect order Neuroptera. Their research involves the interrelated areas of insect seasonality, evolutionary biology and speciation, biological control, and systematics. Maurice Tauber served for many years as professor and is former chair of the Entomology Department at Cornell University where Catherine served as senior research associate. The Taubers have had a close association with the California Academy of Sciences for many years, and have now returned to California from Cornell to continue their research.

Recipients of the 2009 Fellows' Medal

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott
Executive Director, National Center for Science Education
Dr. Eugenie Scott has been a pioneering researcher and activist in the creationism-evolution controversy for over 25 years. In 1980, she was at the forefront of a battle with a local school board to prevent creationism from being taught in public schools in Lexington, Kentucky. From this grassroots effort the National Center for Science Education was formed, and Dr. Scott was appointed its executive director in 1987. In 2005, NCSE served as a consultant for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, in which Judge John Jones ruled against the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Dr. Scott has received national recognition for her work and holds honorary degrees from McGill, Rutgers, Mt. Holyoke, the University of New Mexico, Ohio State, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the author of Evolution vs. Creationism, and co-editor of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools.

Dr. Michael T. Ghiselin
Senior Research Fellow, California Academy of Sciences
A marine invertebrate zoologist and evolutionary biologist, Dr. Ghiselin's work has dealt with a wide range of topics, including both traditional and molecular phylogenetics, modes of reproduction, and chemical defense. A Darwin scholar, he was awarded the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society for his first book, The Triumph of the Darwinian Method. His Darwin: a Reader's Guide was published by the Academy in February 2009 to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. Dr. Ghiselin was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978 and was a member of the first class of MacArthur Fellows in 1981. He is also the founder and chair of the California Academy of Sciences' Center for the History and Philosophy of Science.

Recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Service Award

Jens Vindum
Collections Manager, Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences As one of the California Academy of Sciences' first Collections Managers, Jens took on the project of computerizing the herpetology department's collections in the early 1980s. The collection later became the second herpetology collection in the country to be completely available on the internet. Jens also started the department's tissue collection, which is now one of largest in the country with over 21,000 tissues. He is one of the leaders for the Society of the Preservation of Natural History Collections and is one of the foremost practitioners of his craft.

After the death of Dr. Joseph Slowinski in 2001, Jens took over field operations in Myanmar to systematically survey the country's amphibians and reptiles. Along with Al Leviton and the Smithsonian Institution's George Zug, he received funding from NSF to continue the Myanmar project, which has now yielded over 25,000 specimens, including more than 70 new species. Closer to home, he and his staff secured several contracts to survey the amphibians and reptiles in national forests in California and the Presidio of San Francisco.


About the California Academy of Sciences

The Academy is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of Earth's living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It conducts research in 11 scientific fields: anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, comparative genomics, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy and ornithology. Visit

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