Five faculty members elected to NAS


Five MIT faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors accorded to a scientist or engineer. This brings the number of MIT members to 110.

The MIT professors were among 72 new members cited for their "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research." There are now 1,979 active members of the Academy. The election took place at its annual meeting in Washington on April 29.

The new MIT members are:

Sallie E. Chisholm, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies, and co-director of the Earth Systems Initiative. Chisholm has a joint academic appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Biology. She received a B.A. in biology and chemistry from Skidmore College in 1969 and a Ph.D. in biology from the State University of New York at Albany in 1974. She joined the MIT faculty in 1976.

David G. Forney Jr., adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Forney received his undergraduate degree from Princeton in 1961 and his doctorate from MIT in 1965. His career has centered on information theory and its applications in data communications, particularly in high-speed telephone-line modems. In 1965 he joined Codex, a startup company in data communications, and later served as vice president for research and development and director. After Motorola acquired Codex in 1977, Forney was a vice president of Motorola until his retirement in 1999.

Rudolf Jaenisch, a founding member of the Whitehead Institute and professor of biology at MIT. Jaenisch received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Munich in 1967. He came to the Whitehead from the University of Hamburg in Germany, where he was head of the Department of Tumor Virology at the Heinrich Pette Institute.

Paul L. Schechter, the William A.M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics. Schechter is an astronomer who studies galaxies and clusters of galaxies and the distribution of dark matter therein. He earned the A.B. from Cornell in 1968 and the Ph.D. from Caltech in 1974. He served on the faculty at Harvard and the staffs of the Kit Peak National Observatory and the Mt. Wilson and Las Campanas Observatory before coming to MIT in 1988. For the last several years he has been carrying out ground-based optical and Hubble Space Telescope observations of the mirages produced by extragalactic gravitational potentials.

Robert J. Silbey, professor of chemistry for 37 years. Silbey is internationally recognized for his contributions to theoretical chemistry. Before he was appointed dean of the School of Science in December 2000, Silbey headed the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, and he was head of the Department of Chemistry from 1990-95. He became the Class of 1942 Professor of Chemistry in 1989 and he is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. Silbey earned the B.S. from Brooklyn College in 1961 and the Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1965.

More details on the NAS electees are available on the News Office web site at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 14, 2003.

Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty

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