William Bialek, visiting presidential professor of physics and founder and director of the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences (ITS @ the Graduate Center), was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in May 2012. The award recognizes his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, and election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.
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. He has been a key figure in the emergence of biophysics as a subdiscipline within physics, and in bringing the quantitative traditions of physics to bear on a broad range of phenomena in biology.
ITS @ the Graduate Center, which Bialek founded in 2009, 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 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.