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About Sigma Xi » News » 2009 Award Winners Announced

January 28, 2009

2009 Sigma Xi Awards Honor Leading Scientists

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - Physicist Deborah S. Jin at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will receive Sigma Xi's 2009 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, the Society's highest honor.

The Procter Prize and the research society's other top annual awards will be presented at the Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference next November 12-15 in Houston, Texas.

The 2009 John P. McGovern Science and Society Award will go to epidemiologist David Michaels at George Washington University. And food safety scientist Timothy D. Phillips at Texas A&M University will receive the Walston Chubb Award for Innovation.

Biochemist Brandt F. Eichman at Vanderbilt University will be honored with Sigma Xi's Young Investigator Award.

Procter Prize winner Deborah Jin is a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of NIST and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her technical innovations in the field of ultra cold Fermionic (atomic) gases have led to discoveries that define this new area of physics research.

Her research has been described as the crucial first step in developing superconductors that work at room temperature, which could lead to faster computers and other advances. A MacArthur Fellow, Jin is one of only a handful of women physicists elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

The Procter Prize has been presented annually since 1950 to an outstanding scientist or engineer who is known for effective communication of complex ideas. Past recipients include Philip Morrison, Jane Goodall, Michael DeBakey and Stephen Jay Gould.

McGovern Award winner David Michaels heads the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy and is professor and interim chairman of environmental and occupational health in the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. His work focuses on the use of science in public policy. He is the author of the book Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.

As an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1998-2001, Michaels advocated on behalf of workers who developed cancer or lung disease in the manufacture or testing of nuclear weapons. The McGovern Award has been presented annually since 1984. Past recipients include Sylvia Earle, David Suzuki, Condoleezza Rice and Roald Hoffmann.

Chubb Award winner Timothy Phillips is in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University. His research has increased the safety of food and livestock feed in the U.S., China and many developing countries.

He developed a simple, inexpensive way to remediate aflatoxin in staple foods such as corn, peanuts and rice, thereby preventing a variety of health problems associated with aflatoxicosis. The Chubb Award is designed to honor and promote creativity among scientists and engineers. Previous recipients of the Chubb Award include Patrick Usoro, Stan Ovshinsky and Mark Holtzapple.

Young Investigator Award winner Brandt Eichman is an assistant professor of biological sciences and biochemistry at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics from Oregon State University in 2000 and was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.

A Sigma Xi member, Eichman is recognized as a leader in research into the structural biology of cellular mechanisms that maintain DNA fidelity. The Young Investigator Award includes $5,000 and a certificate of recognition. Sigma Xi members within 10 years of their highest earned degree are eligible for this award.

The 2009 Sigma Xi Honorary Members will be announced at a later time. Since 1983, noted science advocates, top science journalists and friends of research who have made important contributions to science but are not eligible for Sigma Xi membership, have been elected Honorary Members.

Profiles of award winners will appear in upcoming issues of American Scientist magazine.

Deborah S. Jin
Deborah Jin is a distinguished atomic physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an associate adjoint professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of NIST and CU-Boulder. She is one of only a handful of women physicists who has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and by far the youngest to have received that honor. Her technical innovations in the field of ultra cold Fermionic atom gases have led to discoveries that define this new area of physics research. Her research has been described as the crucial first step in developing superconductors that work at room temperature. The development of such superconductors could lead to faster computers, smaller cell phones and lower electric bills. Jin earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and an A.B. from Princeton. In 2003, she received the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. Other honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the American Physical Society's Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, the Samuel Wesley Stratton Award from NIST and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics. Download a high-resolution photo

David Michaels
David Michaels is research professor and interim chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, where he directs the department's doctoral program. Michaels' work has focused on the use of science in public policy. He directs The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (www.DefendingScience.org), bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scientists to examine the use and misuse of science in two forums in which public policy is shaped. He is the author of Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, as well as numerous journal articles. Michaels served as the U.S. Department of Energy's assistant secretary for environment, safety and health from 1998-2001. He had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons facilities. He was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. His many honors include the AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, the American Public Health Association's David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health and the Department of Energy's Meritorious Service Award. Download a high-resolution photo

Timothy D. Phillips
Timothy Phillips is a former director of the Center for Food Safety and chair of the Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology at Texas A&M University (TAMU). He currently holds the appointment of professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the Faculty of Toxicology and the Faculty of Food Science and Technology at TAMU. He has been recognized nationally and internationally for his research in food safety and food toxicology related to hazardous chemical and microbial contaminants of food, particularly the aflatoxins. Texas A&M University has recognized him with numerous honors, including a 2008 Senior Faculty Fellows Distinction (Texas AgriLife), a 2007 Innovation Award for Research, the 2006 Association of Former Students' Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and a 2005 Bush Award for Excellence in International Research. Phillips is a fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and the co-editor of Food Additives and Contaminants. He is a member of the Joint FAO/JECFA Expert Panel on Food Additives (Contaminants and Natural Toxicants) and has served on the Committee on Science Reports and Emerging Issues for the Institute of Food Technologists, the USDA National Research Initiative Study Panel in Animal Health, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council in Canada and the Board of Scientific Advisors for the American Council on Science and Health. Phillips earned a B.S. in general science from Mississippi State University and an M.S. in science education and chemistry and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. Download a high-resolution photo

Brandt F. Eichman
Brandt Eichman is an assistant professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University. He received a B.S. in chemistry at the University of Mississippi and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University. His research interests include structural biology, biophysics and biochemistry of proteins and protein-nucleic acid complexes. He was a postdoctoral fellow from 2000-2004 in the laboratory of Tom Ellenberger in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School. There, he studied crystal structures and biochemical properties of DNA repair and replication enzymes. Research in his laboratory is focused on understanding how proteins recognize and manipulate DNA structure during replication and repair processes, which are critical for the prevention of genetic disease and cancer. Eichman and colleagues use X-ray crystallography and biochemistry to investigate the physical and mechanistic basis for the biological functions of several DNA processing enzymes. A Sigma Xi member, he also belongs to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Crystallographic Association and the American Chemical Society. Eichman is an ad hoc reviewer for Nature, Molecular Cell, PNAS, EMBO Journal, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Structure, Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Journal of Molecular Biology and DNA Repair. At Vanderbilt, he is an active member in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Institute of Chemical Biology, Center for Structural Biology and Center in Molecular Toxicology. Download a high-resolution photo

About Sigma Xi
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. Membership is by invitation, in recognition of research potential or achievement. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist, the non-profit Society awards hundreds of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.

 

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