July 2003

Pillars of Societies

Elucidating Universal Principles in Complex Systems

Protecting Creations of the Human Mind

The Lawses of Physics

Growing Interest in Agriculture

Understanding a Common Language Problem

S&T Briefs

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Al Dorof, Editor
adorof@brynmawr.edu
info@brynmawr.edu

© 2003

 

Bryn Mawr College
A newsletter on research, teaching, management, policy making and leadership in Science and Technology

S&T Briefs

High Honor

Michele Barry ’74, professor of medicine and global public health and director of the office of international health, Yale University School of Medicine, was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 14. Members are chosen for their major contributions to health and medicine, and election to the Institute is both an honor and an obligation to work on behalf of the organization in its studies and governance.

Barry co-founded the Yale International Health Program in 1981, which sends U.S. physicians-in-training to countries in the developing world to provide needed medical services, and developed the first U.S. certification examination in tropical medicine and travelers’ health. Barry also serves as president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She received her M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

L’Oréal-UNESCO Laureate
Ayse Erzan

Ayse Erzan ’70, professor of physics at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey, received the 2003 L’Oréal-UNESCO Award at a Feb. 27 ceremony at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris. The award annually recognizes five outstanding women scientists, one each from Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. In addition to the five laureates, who receive a $100,000 award each, the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science program provides $20,000 fellowships to 15 promising young women scientists each year.

Erzan was recognized for her innovative use of “the concepts of fractal geometry to study the collective phenomena of percolation, in which the interactions of simple constituents translate to behavior at large scales or over long periods” in a system that incorporates extremely large numbers of basic units. Such systems can include sand piles, chemical reactions, protein molecules, turbulent media or earthquakes.

A physics major at Bryn Mawr, Erzan went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1976. She returned to Turkey but left a few years later in the wake of a military coup. After working at institutions in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, Erzan returned to her homeland in 1990.

Hail Fellow

Mina Jihan Bissell ’63, director of the life sciences division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on April 29. Fellows are chosen for their preeminent contributions to all scholarly fields and professions; Bissell was honored for her lifetime achievements in the medical sciences.

Bissell’s research on how cells within a tissue express genes selectively posed a radical hypothesis that is now mainstream — that the unit of function in higher organisms in not the genome or the cell alone, but the three-dimensional tissue complex. That is, cells need to be studied within the context of their tissue structure in order to understand how and why cells proliferate, express genes selectively or die.

Bissell is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, president of the International Society of Differentiation, and past president of the American Society for Cell Biology. In her junior year at Bryn Mawr, she transferred to Radcliffe College to be near her fiancé. Bissell earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

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