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Three Professors Earn Top Scientific Honor, Elected to National Academy of Sciences

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posted: Thursday May 1, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Three faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin have been elected members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States.

Richard Aldrich, Wilson Geisler and David Hillis are among 72 new members nationally recognized for their excellence in original scientific research. They bring the number of University of Texas at Austin faculty elected to NAS to 13.

"Richard Aldrich, Wilson Geisler and David Hillis are three outstanding researchers and faculty members richly deserving of this honor," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "They are leaders in their fields, and their work has earned national and international recognition. They bring great credit to our university."

Aldrich, the Karl Folkers Chair of the Section of Neurobiology, joined the university in 2006 from Stanford University, where he was chairman of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology from 2001-2004. Aldrich's research is directed toward understanding the mechanisms of ion channel function in neurons and the role of ion channels in electrical signaling and physiology. He is a member of the university's Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Center for Learning and Memory and a fellow of the Biophysical Society. He was a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1990-2006.

Geisler, the David Wechsler Regents Chair in the Department of Psychology, joined the university in 1975 after earning his doctoral degree from Indiana University. He researches how people perceive information and make sense of the world, with an emphasis on visual perception and the evolution of perceptual systems. He examines perception through multiple scientific lenses, including psychophysics to analyze behavior, neurophysiology to explore the visual cortex, and mathematical and computational modeling. He is director of the Center for Perceptual Systems and a member of the Institute for Neuroscience.

Hillis, the Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in the Section of Integrative Biology, studies the evolution of biotic diversity, largely using molecular genetic techniques to examine relationships among organisms. He directs the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and is a principal investigator in the Assembling the Tree of Life project, where researchers from around the country seek to fully develop an evolutionary tree for all life on Earth. He is a member of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, a MacArthur Fellow and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

New NAS members will be inducted into the academy next April during its 146th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Among the NAS's 2,000 renowned members are Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell.

For more information, visit the National Academy of Sciences.

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