Three UCSC professors elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Three faculty members at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are among the newly elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They are Harry Berger, Jr., professor emeritus of English literature and history of art and visual culture; David Haussler, professor of biomolecular engineering; and Harold Widom, professor emeritus of mathematics.

The 175 new fellows elected this year also include former Presidents George H. W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and Rockefeller University President Sir Paul Nurse; director Martin Scorsese; and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome these outstanding leaders in their fields to the academy," said academy president Patricia Meyer Spacks. "Fellows are selected through a highly competitive process that recognizes individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large."

Berger was recognized for his contributions to literary criticism. A founding faculty member at UCSC, he is known for his wide-ranging and interdisciplinary approach that goes far beyond traditional academic boundaries. Berger studied literature and art history at Yale University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in English and taught for nine years. He came to UCSC in 1965 and has taught a variety of subjects under the general category of culture theory and Renaissance culture, including Renaissance drama and Shakespeare. In art history, Berger specialized in Italian and Dutch painting and the theory and practice of portraiture. He has published extensively, with a dozen books and more than 80 articles to his credit.

Haussler was recognized for his work in computer science, including artificial intelligence and information technology. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Haussler directs the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering at UCSC. He is also affiliated with UCSC's Center for Molecular Biology of RNA and is scientific codirector of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research. He has done pioneering work in the fields of computational learning theory and bioinformatics. His research group made vital contributions to the International Human Genome Project and remains at the forefront of the field of computational genomics.

Haussler is also one of two UCSC faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences this week (see separate press release). A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, he earned his B.A. in mathematics from Connecticut College, M.S. in applied mathematics from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1986.

Widom has made important contributions in an area of mathematics called random matrix theory, which is also of great interest to physicists. His work with collaborator Craig Tracy of UC Davis led to the discovery of a new class of distribution functions called Tracy-Widom distributions. Widom and Tracy shared the prestigious George PĆ³lya Prize in 2002 for this work. Widom's early research was in the areas of integral equations and operator theory.

Widom attended the City College of New York as an undergraduate, then received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the University of Chicago. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1968.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences will welcome this year's new class at its annual induction ceremony on October 7 at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the academy has elected as Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Ben Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners. An independent policy research center, the academy undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current academy research focuses on science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education.