Three MIT professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer.
John P. Grotzinger, the Schrock Professor of Earth Sciences, and Vernon M. Ingram, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Biology, are among the 72 new members elected April 30. Wolfgang Ketterle, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics, was elected a foreign associate. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States.
The three were elected "in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research." The total number of active members in the NAS is now 1,907; the total number of foreign associates is 330. The number of MIT members is 105.
Grotzinger's research interests include sedimentary geology, tectonics and sedimentation, numerical simulation of depositional systems, biogeology and earth history. He is especially interested in using the stratigraphic record to understand the large-scale processes that operated during the early history of the earth. He is director of MIT's Earth Resources Lab.
He received the B.S. from Hobart College in 1979, the M.S. from the University of Montana in 1981 and the Ph.D. from Virginia Polytech Institute in 1985. He joined the MIT faculty in 1988. Grotzinger was awarded the Henno Martin Medal from the Geological Society of Namibia in 2001, the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America in 1992 and the Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation in 1990.
The goal of Ingram's laboratory is to understand the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease, as well as senile dementia. The overall objective of his studies is to develop therapeutic strategies that will enable individuals to continue to function normally into advanced old age and prevent or slow cognitive degeneration in these conditions.
Ingram received two bachelor of science degrees (1943 and 1945), the Ph.D. (1949), and the D.Sc. (1961) from Birkbeck College, University of London. He has been on the MIT faculty since 1958. His honors include the William Allen Award of the American Society for Human Genetics, and election to the American Adademy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society.
Ketterle does experimental research in atomic physics and laser spectroscopy and focuses currently on Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) in dilute atomic gases. He was among the first scientists to observe this phenomenon, in 1995, and realized the first atom laser in 1997.
In 2001 he shared the Nobel Prize in physics for achieving BEC. Ketterle received a diploma (equivalent to a master's degree) from the Technical University of Munich (1982), and the Ph.D. in physics from the University of Munich (1986). After postdoctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, at the University of Heidelberg and at MIT, he joined the physics faculty at MIT in 1993.
The NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 15, 2002.