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Chemistry Chair Michael Marletta elected to National Academy of Sciences

somorjai and others Photo by Peg Skorpinski

Michael Marletta, Chemistry Chair and Aldo DeBenedictis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Marletta joins four others from the UC Berkeley campus and eight from other UC campuses who were also elected on April 25, 2006.

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.

The Academy announced the election of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 16 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The election brings the total number of active members to 2,013, and the total number of foreign associates to 371. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the Academy, with citizenship outside the United States.

"Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in American science and engineering," said Ralph Cicerone, former chancellor of UC Irvine, who became president of the Academy in 2005. Barbara Schaal, an NAS member since 1999 who was elected last year as the Academy's first woman vice president, noted, "This year's new class represents outstanding accomplishment in a wide variety of disciplines."

The other new members of the Academy from UC Berkeley are Jillian F. Banfield, earth and planetary sciences and environmental science, policy, and management; Robert P. Lin, physics, director of the Space Sciences Laboratory; David Patterson, electrical engineering and computer science; and Dan-Virgil Voiculesc, mathematics.

Marletta's academic career has taken him from coast to coast. Born in 1951 in Rochester, New York, Marletta earned his A.B. in biology and chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia, in 1973. He completed his Ph.D. at UCSF in 1977 under research advisor George L. Kenyon, followed by postdoctoral training at MIT from 1978 to 1980 under mentor Chris Walsh.

After his postdoc, Marletta remained at MIT and taught as both an assistant and associate professor in toxicology from 1980 to 1987. He then jumped halfway across the country to the University of Michigan, where he taught in both the College of Pharmacy and the Medical School. While in Michigan, in 1995, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and in 1997, he became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Marletta completed his westward journey in 2000, when he came to the Department of Chemistry as a Miller Visiting Research Professor. He was hired as a professor in 2001, and since 2002, he has been the Aldo DeBenedictis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. In July, 2005, Marletta became the Chair of the Department of Chemistry.

Marletta holds joint appointments at Cal's Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and at UCSF's Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology. He is also a Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Among the active college faculty, Marletta becomes the 25th member of the National Academy of Sciences. He remains the only faculty member who has also been elected to the Academy's Institute of Medicine.

"To say that I am very pleased and honored seems like such an understatement," remarks Marletta. "I am also grateful beyond words to the students I have worked with and learned from over the years. Their excitement, dedication and ideas are responsible for the recognition given by the NAS election."

This new honor may necessitate a few more trips each year to Washington, DC, for Marletta and his family. He intends to spend as much time as possible exploring the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with his wife Margaret and son Matthew, and admiring the view from the Lincoln Memorial.

For more information on the National Academy of Sciences:

For information on the Marletta and his research group:

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