University of Rochester

Three University of Rochester Scientists Named Fellows of the American Association for Advancement of Science

November 30, 2005

University of Rochester chemist Richard S. Eisenberg, biochemist Fred Sherman, and neuroscientist David R. Williams have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest federation of scientists. Their distinguished contributions will be recognized formally in February 2006 at the annual meeting of the association in St. Louis.

Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, is being honored for his contributions to the fields of inorganic and organometallic chemistry as a researcher, teacher, leader, and mentor. He is the recipient of many professional honors, awards, appointments, and elected positions, including the 2003 American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in Inorganic Chemistry.

The group of chemists he leads is engaged in a number of projects involving organometallic and metal complex chemistry of the platinum group elements. Organometallic chemistry focuses on reactions related to catalysis and the design of new catalytically active complexes.

The editor-in-chief of the journal Inorganic Chemistry, the most often cited journal in its field, Eisenberg began teaching at Rochester in 1973, was named professor of chemistry in 1976, and served as chair of the department from 1991 to 1994. He was named Tracy Harris Professor in 1996. He earned his doctorate in chemistry from Columbia University in 1967.

Sherman, professor of biochemistry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, was elected to the rank of AAAS fellow "for using the cytochrome c as a model system in yeast to elucidate many general principles, including initiation and termination of translation and protein acetylation." He has been investigating various broad aspects of gene expression in yeast since his years as a graduate student in biophysics at the University of California at Berkeley.

Sherman's work has uncovered principles that involve the genetic code, translation, and protein degradation. Considered one of the founding fathers of yeast molecular biology, his current research is directed toward understanding protein modifications and degradation of mRNA in the nucleus.

A native of Minnesota who earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry at the University of Minnesota, he was awarded that university's honorary doctor of science degree in 2002. In the citation recording his accomplishments, Sherman was described as "an early contributor to the recombinant DNA technology in solving biological problems . . . and for his invaluable contributions at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was established as a model system for molecular studies."

Sherman has chaired or contributed to numerous scientific groups, received many awards, and has written more than 250 articles and book chapters on molecular biology and the genetics of yeast. He arrived in Rochester in 1961 as an instructor of radiation biology and biophysics, later was named professor of biophysics in 1971 and of biochemistry in 1982, and served as chair of the Department of Biochemistry or the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics from 1982 to 1999. Since 1985, he has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

David R. Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, is the creator of technology that allows high resolution imaging in living human retina, which has led to dramatic discoveries about human vision. Williams is the director of the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester. His primary faculty appointment is in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and he holds secondary appointments in the Institute of Optics, the Department of Ophthalmology, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University.

AAAS is honoring Williams for the development of new methods to overcome optical defects in the human eye that "allowed the first images of the intact living human retina at a microscopic spatial scale and clarified the optical and neural limits of human spatial and color vision." The optical system developed by Williams and his researchers has given research subjects an unprecedented quality of eyesight and also has revealed information that may lead to better diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.

Williams has authored more than 100 scientific articles and is the holder of eight patents. He has been honored by the Optical Society of America, among others, and will receive the Friedenwald Award in recognition of his studies on human optics, human cone receptors, and color vision from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in 2006. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from Denison University where he received his bachelor's degree in psychology.

Williams joined the University of Rochester in 1981 as assistant professor of psychology, and was named Allyn Professor of Medical Optics in 1997. He earned his doctorate in psychology in 1979 from the University of California at San Diego.

Others named as AAAS Fellows in this group from around the world are three University of Rochester alumni: Sheila E. Blumstein, the Albert D. Mead Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences at Brown University; Susan Hockfield, neuroscientist and president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Frederick J. Newmeyer, the Howard and Frances Nostrand Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington.

Founded in 1848, AAAS works to advance science for human well-being through its more than 138,000 members. The tradition of honoring those members who have excelled in their chosen fields began in 1874. AAAS publishes the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science.