UC San Diego News Center


Three Professors at UC San Diego Elected to National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences today elected three professors at the University of California, San Diego to membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors bestowed on U.S. scientists and engineers.

Roberto Malinow, Ruth Williams and William Young were among the 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected to the academy today “in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

They join 92 current members of the UC San Diego faculty who previously had been named to membership in the academy, which was established by Congress in 1863 to serve as an official adviser to the federal government on matters of science and technology.

Roberto Malinow

Major research universities use the number of academy members on their faculty as a benchmark by which to compare the strength of their scientific research and education programs among universities across the nation in different disciplines.

Malinow, a professor of neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and a professor of biology in the Division of Biological Sciences, came to the campus in March 2008 from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where he held the Alle Davis and Maxine Harrison Endowed Chair of Neurosciences since 1998. He currently holds the Shiley Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research in Honor of Dr. Leon Thal. His research focuses on synaptic transmission and plasticity, learning and memory. He received his medical degree from New York University and his Ph.D. degree from UC Berkeley. Malinow has received numerous awards including the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research and has been keynote speaker in several venues including the Einar Hille Memorial Lecture, KAC Elliot Lecture and Gordon Conference on Synaptic Transmission.

Ruth Williams

Williams, a professor of mathematics, joined the UC San Diego faculty in 1983 and currently holds the Charles Lee Powell Chair in Mathematics. Her research is focused on probability, stochastic processes and their applications. She is especially well known for her work on theory and applications associated with stochastic networks, which arise in semiconductor manufacturing, telecommunications, computer systems, Internet congestion control and systems biology. Williams is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and has been a U.S. National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow.  She is currently the President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, a major professional society for those doing research in probability and statistics. Williams received her bachelor’s of science and masters of science degrees at the University of Melbourne, Australia and she earned her Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Stanford University.

William Young

Young, a professor of physical oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was born in Brisbane, Australia, and received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics in 1977 and a M.Sc. in applied mathematics in 1978, both from the Australian National University. He received a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology–Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in 1981. He came to Scripps in 1982 as a postdoctoral researcher, then returned to MIT in 1984 as an assistant professor. He returned to Scripps in 1988.  The La Jolla resident is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. He received the University Medal in Theoretical Physics from the Australian National University in 1976, the Carl-Gustav Rossby Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982, and, in 1989, AGU’s James B. Macelwane Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding young scientist. Recently he served as the Oceans and Atmosphere section head at Scripps from 2007 to 2011.

Also elected to the academy was alumnus Donald Eigler ‘75, an IBM Fellow at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA, who received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1975 and his Ph.D. in physics from UC San Diego in 1984.

Those elected today bring the total number of active members to 2,152 and the total number of foreign associates to 430. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the Academy, with citizenship outside the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of 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.

Additional information about the Academy and its members is available online at

UC San Diego’s Studio Ten 300 offers radio and television connections for media interviews with our faculty, which can be coordinated via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). To connect with a UC San Diego faculty expert on relevant issues and trending news stories, visit