Two renowned scientists, (l-r) mathematician Michael Zuker and computer scientist Charles ''Chip" Lawrence '67, will lead Rensselaer's new research constellation in bioinformatics.
A constellation, at Rensselaer, is a multidisciplinary team of senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students led by one or two outstanding stars in a particular research field.
The newly created constellation in bioinformatics underscores Rensselaer's commitment to research excellence in two major areas: biotechnology and information technology. That commitment was made official in May when the Board of Trustees approved the "Rensselaer Plan," a detailed statement of Institute objectives under the leadership of President Shirley Ann Jackson.
Zuker comes to Rensselaer from Washington University's School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he has served as an associate professor of biomedical computing. Zuker earned his doctorate in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Lawrence has joint appointments as research professor of computer science at Rensselaer and as chief of the Biometrics Lab at the Wadsworth Center in Albany. The Wadsworth Center is the public health research laboratory of the New York State Department of Health. Lawrence received a bachelor's degree in physics from Rensselaer and a doctorate in applied operations research and statistics from Cornell University. Lawrence will maintain joint appointments at both the Wadsworth Center and Rensselaer.
Led by Zuker and Lawrence, the constellation in bioinformatics will include John Salerno, professor and chair of biology, and director of Rensselaer’s bioinformatics program; Chris Bystroff, assistant professor of biology; Wilfredo Colon, assistant professor of chemistry; Mark Wentland, professor of chemistry; Mohammed Zaki, assistant professor of computer science; and others.
By linking biology with information technology, bioinformatics allows scientists to quickly analyze huge amounts of data that flow from modern biological research, such as the Human Genome Project. By designing and using sophisticated computer algorithms, specialists in bioinformatics create and search great storehouses of data to find elusive pieces of the puzzles whose solutions will advance our understanding of birth defects, promote the discovery of new medicines, foster the design of disease-resistant crops, protect endangered species, and further our understanding of the genetic code.
Zuker's research has focused on the development of algorithms for nucleic acid secondary-structure prediction and for nucleic acid and protein sequence analysis. He has created one of the world’s most popular Web sites for bioinformatics, including a World Wide Web server that predicts structure for RNA and DNA sequences that are entered by users. The server registers as many as 15,000 hits each month.
deals with statistical models in molecular and structural biology. Specifically,
he works in the identification and characterization of gene regulatory
elements, multiple sequence alignment, and protein structure prediction.
Last month, the International Society for Bayesian Analysis awarded
Lawrence and his co-authors the distinguished Mitchell 2000 prize for
their outstanding paper “Markovian Structures in Biological Sequence
Gerhardt, associate dean of engineering, has
been named a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education.
The ASEE chooses its fellows in recognition of outstanding contributions
to engineering education or engineering technology education. Gerhardt
was one of only nine fellows selected nationwide this year. His work includes
methods for analyzing and modeling adaptive systems, pattern recognition,
and digital signal processing. He holds several patents, the most recent
of which is a vision tracking system that allows physically challenged
people to speak with their eyes. Gerhardt won the Inventor of the Year
Award in New York state in 1997. He earned his bachelor’s of science in
electrical engineering from the City College of New York and his master’s
and doctorate in electrical engineering from the State University of New
York at Buffalo. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the Technical
University of Denmark. Gerhardt joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1970,
and chaired the department of electrical, computer, and systems engineering
for 11 years. In addition to the ASEE, Gerhardt is a member and fellow
Hartt ’70 received the 2000 Pillars of Rensselaer
Award, the highest honor given to a member of the Institute’s staff. Hartt,
director of the Rensselaer Union, mentors student leaders in their role
as managers of the Union’s resources. As a student development advocate,
Hartt says he “works with students as they go through the maturing process
at Rensselaer.” Hartt, a member of the Rensselaer staff for 22 years,
was instrumental in the late 1980s in the launching of the Archer Center
for Student Leadership Development, designed to offer students at all
levels opportunities to enhance their leadership skills, including communication
skills, teamwork, multiculturalism, values, ethics, and self-awareness.
Hartt rejoined the university in 1978 as director of student activities.
trustee, is one of five recipients of the 1999 Heinz Awards. Good received
the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy, and Employment for "her
singular vision in working to build an economy fueled by scientific
knowledge and technological know-how." Good is a managing member
for Venture Capital Investors. Previously, she served four years as
the Under Secretary for Technology for the Technology Administration
in the Department of Commerce. Good is a member of the National Academy
of Engineering, a past president of the American Chemical Society, a
fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and
a member of the American Institute of Chemists and the Royal Society
assistant professor of language, literature, and communication, is this
year's recipient of the David M. Darrin Counseling Award. Selection
of the award recipient is made by Phalanx, the student leadership honorary
society, based on nominations received from students. According to Phalanx,
Grice was selected for his commitment to graduate and undergraduate
students inside and outside of the classroom. Grice also serves as chapter
adviser to fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha. The award was established by
David M. Darrin '40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual
contribution in the counseling of students.
Wang has been named
chair of the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy.
Wang received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in
1978. She joined the Rensselaer faculty as an associate professor in
1984 after working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She was promoted
to professor in 1991. Wang's research involves the physics of surfaces
McKim '90 received
the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Teaching Award in June. The
recognition of McKim, clinical professor and chair of computer and information
sciences at Rensselaer at Hartford, marks the first time a Rensselaer
professor from the Hartford campus has been selected for the award.
He joined the faculty of Rensselaer at Hartford in 1988 and became chair
of the department of computer and information sciences in 1998. McKim
earned a master's in computer science from Rensselaer in 1990. The RAA
Teaching Award recognizes current members of the Rensselaer faculty
for outstanding teaching techniques, contributions to the campus experience,
and commitment to students.
Kodak Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering, was awarded
a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National
Science Foundation. The grant, aimed at young faculty members actively
engaged in research and education, is one of the NSF's most competitive
and prestigious awards. Kilduff, who has been a Rensselaer faculty member
since 1996, received a $200,000 four-year grant to study the application
of membrane and adsorption processes to potable water and industrial
wastewater treatment. He also plans to develop a new membrane processes
course, which will focus on environmental applications and promote active
student involvement through lab work, studio classrooms, and hands-on
Chand Mukhopadhyay, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy,
died May 15 after a long battle with cancer. He was 58. Mukhopadhyay
was born in Maharampur (a small village outside of Calcutta), India,
and lived in the United States for the last 18 years. He was a distinguished
nuclear physicist with a wide international reputation. He received
a B.S. from the University of Calcutta and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees at
the University of Chicago in theoretical nuclear physics. After several
years as a research scientist at the University of Maryland and the
Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research, in 1981, he became a professor
in the Physics Department at Rensselaer. During his career, Mukhopadhyay
established a worldwide reputation for his expertise in nuclear and
particle theory. He was often invited to give lectures at conferences
and held numerous appointments as a visiting professor at universities
and national laboratories around the world. In 1993, he was elected
fellow of the American Physical Society in recognition of his seminal
contributions in the field of nuclear physics. In 1997, he was the recipient
of the Humboldt Senior Scientist Prize from Germany; and in 1999, he
received Rensselaer's William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award.
"As teacher and mentor he demanded and brought out the best in
his students," said Leo Schowalter, chair of physics at the time
of Mukhopadhyay's death. "He will be remembered with great affection
by his colleagues as one who loved and practiced scholarship with much
reverence and enthusiasm. Unfortunately for all of us, he passed away
at the height of his career."