The News Service
October 2, 2004
James Garvin and Wen-Hsiung Li to speak, receive alumni awards
Chief NASA scientist James B. Garvin and Balzan Award-winning mathematician Wen-Hsiung Li, both Brown alumni, will be honored by the Brown Alumni Association and the Brown Graduate School with their most prestigious awards Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. Garvin and Li will each give public lectures that day at 2:45 p.m. – Garvin in the Salomon Center for Teaching and Li in the List Art Center auditorium.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two of the country’s leading scientists, Brown University alumni James B. Garvin and Wen-Hsiung Li, will give lectures and be honored by the University on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. Their lectures are free and open to the public.
Balzan Award-winning mathematician Wen-Hsiung Li will give a lecture titled “From a Mathematician to a Bona Fide Biologist” at 2:45 p.m. in the List Art Building Auditorium, located at 64 College St. He will be honored by the Graduate School with the Horace Mann Medal for Distinguished Graduate School Alumni, which will be presented by Karen Newman, dean of the Graduate School, during the annual Alumni Recognition Dinner that evening. Li received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Brown in 1972.
The Horace Mann Medal for Distinguished Graduate School Alumni honors Horace Mann, Brown Class of 1819, the noted statesman, reformer and father of American public education. Joel Scheraga, national program director of global change research at the Environmental Protection Agency, received the inaugural Horace Mann Award last year.
James B. Garvin, chief scientist for NASA’s Mars and lunar exploration programs, will deliver the William Rogers Lecture, speaking on “New Visions of Mars: A Scientific Frontier,” at 2:45 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. He will receive the William Rogers Award, the Brown Alumni Association’s highest honor, during the Alumni Recognition Dinner. Garvin earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown in 1978, his master’s in 1981 and a Ph.D. in 1984.
The William Rogers Award, established in 1984, is named for the first student and graduate of Brown. Following his graduation in 1769, William Rogers served as vice president of the Society for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery and of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons. The Rogers Award honors an alumnus or alumna whose professional work and service to humanity exemplifies the charge of the Brown Charter of 1764 to live a life of “usefulness and reputation.”
James B. Garvin
Garvin joined NASA’s Geodynamics Branch in 1984, shortly after completing his Ph.D. at Brown. In addition to his degrees from Brown, he holds a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University. At NASA he has been involved in the Mars Global Surveyor project that mapped the planet’s ice-capped south pole, the Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter project, the Shuttle Laser Altimeter topographical surveys of Iceland, and the Earth System Science Pathfinder, which studies the Earth’s weather patterns and the chemicals in the atmosphere. He currently oversees numerous projects from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. His areas of specialty include laser altimetry of terrestrial and planetary landscapes (crucial in determining landing sites); volcanology; volcano-ice interactions; sedimentology on Mars, Earth and Venus; and impact cratering
In early 2004, Garvin announced to the world the findings of the most recent Mars rovers – strong evidence that water once existed on the surface of the planet. He has been instrumental in this most recent round of successful Mars explorations, from determining where the rovers would land to overseeing which direction they would move and which promising rock samples they would collect. He is ultimately in charge of formulating all scientific requirements for studying both Mars and the Moon.
Li has been the George Beadle Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago since 1999. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1965 from Chung-Yuang College of Science and Engineering in Taiwan, a master’s degree in 1968 from National Central University, Taiwan, and a Ph.D. from Brown in applied mathematics in 1972. After a post-doctoral stint in genetics research at the University of Wisconsin, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, in 1973. Li has served as an editor or associate editor of several international journals in genetics and evolution. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences USA in 1993, to the Academia Sinica (National Academy) of Taiwan in 1998, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and as president of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in 2000. He was awarded the Balzan Prize 2003 for Genetics and Evolution, a highly prestigious honor in sciences and humanities.
When Li began his doctoral work in applied mathematics at Brown in the late 1960s, biology and mathematics were unrelated fields. Due in large part to the research he has done since leaving Brown, however, these two disciplines and others have been intertwined in the pursuit of entirely new endeavors. Li’s pioneering efforts in the field of molecular evolution include the first of his signature discoveries: the “molecular clock.” He was the first to prove that different species evolved at different rates over time. He has also improved the testing for determining the genetic relationships of organisms, tracking mutation rates in males and females, identifying the role of “junk DNA” in the evolutionary process, and exploring the origin of full-color vision in primates.
Numerous other alumni will also be honored by the Brown Alumni Association during the annual Alumni Recognition Dinner. The dinner and the lectures are part on the annual Brown Alumni Leadership Conference weekend events. Other awards include:
The John Hope Award
The BAA created the John Hope Award in 1994 in an effort to encourage alumni public service. The award is named for the 1894 African American graduate of Brown who dedicated his life to education and public service. The BAA seeks an alumna or alumnus whose commitment to public service demonstrates leadership and innovation and has a direct impact on the community. This individual may be a professional whose career is dedicated to public service or a volunteer devoted to public or social action. The 2004 recipient is Paul G. Heck, Class of 1989, the founder and director of the Red Hot Organization, the leading international organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture.
The Young Alumni Public Service Award
With this award the BAA honors an alumna or alumnus who has graduated in the last 10 years and whose commitment to public service demonstrates leadership and innovation, with a direct impact on the community. The 2004 winner is Adriana V. Young, Class of 2001, co-founder and executive director of English for Action, a holistic, participatory ESOL program that integrates language learning with important community themes. It now serves more than 150 immigrant families in the Olneyville neighborhood.
The H. Anthony Ittleson ’60 Award
This award is given by the Brown Annual Fund to a volunteer or group of volunteers who best exemplify the extraordinary leadership of H. Anthony Ittleson ’60, national chair of the Brown Annual Fund from 1986 to 1990. The recipients are:
The Brown Bear Awards
Since 1946 the BAA has annually presented the Brown Bear Awards to alumni who have given “outstanding and wide-ranging personal service (to) the University over a period of years.” Each year an anonymous committee reviews nominations from alumni and staff and selects one to three recipients, following the original recommendation that “neither financial aid given the University nor achievement in the fields of business or profession” be considered. Winners of the Brown Bear Award have typically distinguished themselves as volunteers for Brown in more than one area. The 2004 recipients are:
Alumni Service Awards
The Alumni Service Awards are given annually for distinguished, continuing volunteer service to Brown. The committee considers volunteers’ spirit of cooperation and selflessness as the key criteria for these awards. This year’s recipients are:
Young Alumni Service Award
Young Alumni Service Award recognizes those alumni graduating in the last 10 years whose early volunteer service for Brown sets an example for their peers, helps to keep other young alumni involved with Brown, and shows promise for continued service and leadership in the future. This year’s recipients are:
The Spotlight Awards
The spotlight awards highlight exemplary accomplishments for Brown in any volunteer capacity. Individual alumni, parents, or organizations may be nominated. The 2004 award recipients are:
Nan Tracy ’46 Award
The Nan Tracy Award is given annually to a class leader who has given distinguished service to his/her class, the Association of Class Leaders, and/or the University. This year’s recipient is Pamela Boylan Ong, Class of 1984.
The 2004 Class of the Year Award
The Association of Class Leaders Awards program has recognized the Class of 1969 for its exceptional programs that facilitate engagement among classmates. The criteria for this award are quality, variety and creativity in communications, class activities and class leadership.