Monday, November 12 , 2018, 9:28 pm | Fair 50º


UCSB Professors Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Evelyn Hu, William Murdoch and James Thomson receive the prestigious honor for their achievements in research.

Two prominent UC Santa Barbara professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, as has a leading stem cell researcher who is an adjunct professor at UCSB. They were among 72 new members elected to the prestigious academy Tuesday in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.


Evelyn Hu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of materials, and William Murdoch, a professor of biology, ecology, evolution and marine biology, were among those elected. Both in recent years also have been recognized with the Faculty Research Lecturer award at UCSB, the highest honor that the university’s faculty members bestow on one of their own.

Their election brings to 29 the number of active UCSB faculty members elected to the academy. Among other new members elected to the academy was James Thomson, a renowned University of Wisconsin stem cell researcher who also holds an appointment at UCSB as an adjunct professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.


The National Academy of Sciences is the country’s most prestigious scientific organization, and election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Those elected Tuesday bring the total number of active members to just more than 2,000. The new members will be inducted into the academy next April at the group’s annual meeting in Washington.

“We are thrilled by this prestigious honor for professor Evelyn Hu, professor Bill Murdoch and adjunct professor Jamie Thomson,” UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said. “These scholars are leaders on our campus and an inspiration to faculty and students alike. Election to the National Academy of Sciences by one’s peers is a significant affirmation of the hard work and creativity that have gone into years of cutting-edge research. We are proud to salute our distinguished colleagues for this well-deserved recognition.”

Hu joined the UCSB faculty in 1984 and today serves as scientific director of the California NanoSystems Institute, a joint effort between UCSB and UCLA. Her research focuses on the formation of nanophotonic devices that may provide more energy-efficient lighting sources and also may facilitate faster computation and communications. “Election to the NAS is a tremendous honor,” she said. “I feel so fortunate to have had the support of all my colleagues, my students and the organizations I have worked with. My election is a tribute to their support.”

Murdoch, an internationally known ecologist, joined the UCSB faculty in 1965. Murdoch’s research has focused on population dynamics, and the factors affecting the abundance of individuals in populations. It combines empirical study with mathematical theory.  “It is a great honor to be elected, and I am delighted that my peers have recognized my research in such a wonderful way,” he said. “I have had the good fortune of having great colleagues at UCSB, which has made my research career all the more rewarding and enjoyable.”

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Paul Desruisseaux represents UCSB Public Affairs.

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