Nine Stanford University researchers are among the 120 newly elected members of the National Academy of Sciences.
The new members from Stanford are Blas Cabrera, the Stanley G. Wojcicki Professor of Physics and professor of particle physics and astrophysics at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Howard Chang, the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Genomics and of Genetics and professor of dermatology and of genetics; Mark Granovetter, the Joan Butler Ford Professor of Sociology in the School of Humanities and Sciences; Chaitan Khosla, the Wells H. Rauser and Harold M. Petiprin Professor in the School of Engineering, professor of chemistry, and Baker Family Co-Director of Stanford ChEM-H; Richard Lewis, professor of molecular and cellular physiology; Arun Majumdar, the Jay Precourt professor, professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford and of photon science at SLAC, and co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy; Peter Sarnow, professor of microbiology and immunology; Florencia Torche, professor of sociology; and Jeffrey Ullman, the Stanford W. Ascherman Professor of Engineering, emeritus.
Cabrera’s research focuses on the search for dark matter in the form of WIMPs or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. This mysterious substance makes up 85 percent of the gravitating mass in the universe and is responsible for the formation of galaxies. Cabrera was spokesperson for the SuperCDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) Collaboration, a series of experiments that hunted for WIMPs using novel cryogenic detectors located in the Soudan mine in northern Minnesota. He was also project director for second-generation SuperCDMS experiments at SNOLAB, a deeper facility in Canada that is scheduled to begin operation in the early 2020s.
Chang’s research focuses on the role of epigenomics in the control of large groups of genes involved in cell cycle control, and on the study of long noncoding RNAs in biological development, cancer and aging. Chang is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
Granovetter’s main interest is in the way people, social networks and social institutions interact and shape one another. In recent years, his focus has been on the social foundations of the economy.
Khosla studies enzymology and metabolism to find new ways to improve human health. His lab aims to harness the natural potential of enzymes found in soil bacteria to produce new antibiotics. It also researches the development of celiac disease to generate related therapies and management tools.
Lewis focuses on the molecular mechanisms of a class of ion channels called store-operated calcium channels. These channels are expressed in most cells, where they contribute to secretion, gene expression and cell differentiation. One type of store-operated calcium channel is essential for triggering T cells to proliferate and carry out immune functions. Mutations on the gene for this particular calcium-channel type results in a devastating condition called severe combined immunodeficiency.
Majumdar’s research has involved the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices, especially in the areas of energy conversion, transport and storage as well as biomolecular analysis. His current research focuses on electrochemical and thermochemical redox reactions that are fundamental to a sustainable energy future; multidimensional nanoscale imaging and microscopy; and a new effort to re-engineer the electricity grid using data science.
Sarnow studies a microRNA known as miR-122. A small, noncoding strand of RNA, miR-122 is specific to the liver, where it’s essential to the replication of the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus’s RNA genome. Inhibiting miR-122 results in the rapid loss of viral RNA. Sarnow hopes to gain insights that lead to new treatments for hepatitis C. His lab also studies interactions between viral messenger RNA and the protein-making machinery of cells these viruses infect.
Torche’s research interests are in social demography, stratification and education. A longer-term area of her research examines inequality dynamics, with a particular focus on educational attainment, assortative mating and the intergenerational transmission of wealth.
Ullman’s research has covered a wide range of topics, including automata, compilers, data structures, algorithms and databases. He has authored or co-authored 200 papers and 16 books, several of which are standard texts in their field.
The academy is a private, nonprofit institution that was created in 1863 to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Scholars are elected in recognition of their outstanding contributions to research. This year’s election brings the total of active academy members to 2,403.
Chang is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI), the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Granovetter is an affiliate of the Stanford Woods Institute. Khosla is a member of Stanford Bio-X, MCHRI, the Stanford Cancer Institute, the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute and holds a joint appointment in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Lewis is a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Sarnow is a member of Stanford Bio-X, MCHRI and the Stanford Cancer Institute.