UCSC Review Summer 1996
Recognizing research excellence
One measure of the quality of research at a university is the rate at which faculty members win prestigious fellowships, particularly in competitions among nominees from the best institutions in the country. By that measure, UCSC has done well indeed in recent years.
Two of the most coveted fellowships, given annually to a total of 50 young scientists and engineers, are worth $100,000 per year for five years: Presidential Faculty Fellowships (PFF) from the National Science Foundation and Packard Fellowships from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Since 1992, four UCSC scientists have captured these top awards. Their work illustrates some of the programs for which the campus has earned a national reputation.
Associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics Lars Hernquist (PFF, 1992) examines how galaxies evolve over time. He creates complex models on supercomputers to simulate what happens when two galaxies collide and merge.
Associate professor of earth sciences Quentin Williams (PFF, 1993) gains insights on the nature of the inner earth. He uses a diamond-anvil cell and other tools to mimic the intense temperatures and pressures of the planet's interior.
Assistant professor of chemistry Joseph Puglisi (Packard, 1994) and assistant professor of biology Charles Wilson (Packard, 1995) are members of the Center for the Molecular Biology of RNA. Their studies shed light on the structure and function of RNA, one of life's most critical molecules.
"These fellowships recognize that we are attracting the very best people to join our faculty," says David Kliger, dean of the Natural Sciences Division. "I see UCSC's future as very bright because of the talents and energies of the scientists we have hired in the last several years."