William Bialek Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

William Bialek, visiting presidential professor of physics and founder and director of the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences (ITS @ the Graduate Center), has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Bialek is one of eighty-four new members recently announced by the Academy, along with twenty-one foreign associates from fifteen countries, chosen in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Founded in 1863, the Academy spans the full range of the sciences, with members including anthropologists, astronomers, biologists, chemists, economists, geologists and planetary scientists, physicists, political scientists, and psychologists. Those elected this May bring the total number of active members to 2,152 and the total number of foreign associates to 430. (Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the Academy.)

In addition to his work at the Graduate Center, Bialek also serves as John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics, and as a member of the multidisciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics, at Princeton University. He has been a key figure in the emergence of biophysics as a sub-discipline within physics, and in bringing the quantitative traditions of physics to bear on a broad range of phenomena in biology. Bialek’s influential research has addressed problems such as the dynamics of individual biological molecules, the decisions made by single cells in a developing embryo, and the “code” that the brain uses in representing information about the world around us. A persistent theme in Bialek’s work is the remarkable efficiency and precision of life’s basic mechanisms, which often approach the limits set by basic physical principles.

Bialek founded ITS @ the Graduate Center in 2009. ITS provides a home for theoretical research in the sciences and sponsors a wide variety of seminars and workshops, bringing together CUNY faculty, students, and visitors in the quest for more compelling mathematical descriptions of the world around us. In addition, ITS presents a series of public lectures, which bring the excitement and culture of science to a broader audience.

Four other members of the Graduate Center’s doctoral faculty have been honored with membership in the National Academy of Sciences: Dennis Sullivan of the Ph.D. Program in Mathematics (in 1983); Andreas Acrivos of the Ph.D. Program in Engineering (in 1991); Myriam Sarachik of the Ph.D. Program in Physics (in 1994); and Sheldon Weinbaum of the Ph.D. Program in Engineering (in 2002).

Submitted on: MAY 11, 2012

Category: Faculty Awards, Physics, Press Room