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Two UCSD Professors Elected to the
American Philosophical Society

By Sherry Seethaler | May 8, 2006

Photo
Peter Wolynes

The American Philosophical Society, which was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, has elected two UCSD professors to its ranks, one from the Division of Physical Sciences and one from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The society announced this week that Peter G. Wolynes, a professor in both the department of chemistry and biochemistry and the department of physics, and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of applied ocean sciences and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography were selected for membership “for promoting useful knowledge.”  The UCSD researchers join a select group of less than 1,000 members from around the world. 

Wolynes has developed the leading theory of how proteins fold, which has led to computer algorithms that allow one to predict the three-dimensional structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence.  His work on the theory of energy landscapes has also impacted condensed matter physics, notably illuminating the nature of glasses and liquids.

Ramanathan is well known for discovering the greenhouse effect of chloroflurocarbons , which opened the door for a new field on trace gas greenhouse effects and chemistry-climate interactions.  He also demonstrated the use of satellite radiation budget observations for inferring the atmospheric greenhouse effect and the radiative forcing due to clouds.  More than 25 years ago, he pointed out that global warming would manifest in field observations by 2000. Most recently, he led a project that used unmanned aerial vehicles to collect data in the pollution-filled skies over the Indian Ocean.  Ramanathan and colleagues are exploring the data to determine how the particles cause dimming in the Earth’s atmosphere and lead to cloud formation and effects on precipitation.

Wolynes and Ramanathan are also members of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The American Philosophical Society’s goal is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas.  The Society “honors and engages leading scholars, scientists and professionals through elected membership and opportunities for interdisciplinary, intellectual fellowship.” 

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