Rice University Professor Curl Elected to National Academy of Sciences

CONTACT: Lia Unrau
PHONE: (713)
E-MAIL: unrau@rice.edu


Nobel laureate Robert Curl, the Harry C. and Olga K.
Wiess Professor of Natural Sciences at Rice University, has been elected to
membership in the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that
can be conferred upon a U.S. scientist or engineer.

The announcement came at the National Academy of Sciences 134th Annual
Meeting April 29. The academy elected 60 new members and 15 foreign associates
in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original

“All of Rice, indeed all of Houston, can take deep pride in yet another
signal honor bestowed upon Bob Curl,” said Malcolm Gillis, president of Rice
University. “Next to the Nobel Prize, membership in the National Academy of
Sciences is perhaps the most coveted of all honors awarded to scientists. Bob
Curl now enjoys both these distinctions.”

James Kinsey, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and a member of
the academy, said, “It’s really nice to see him recognized by the academy, it’s
certainly high time. The National Academy of Sciences is a very influential
group and we’re very pleased to have one more of our faculty joining the ranks.”

Curl’s election brings the total number of Rice faculty with membership in
the academy to eight. Rice President Emeritus Norman Hackerman of the Welch
Foundation is also a member.

Curl received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, along with Rice professor
Richard Smalley and University of Sussex professor Harold Kroto of England for
their discovery of fullerenes, a new class of carbon molecules. Curl’s current
research focuses on studying the spectra, structure, and kinetics of small free
radicals using infrared lasers. He hopes to develop sensitive methods of
detecting and observing the concentration of these molecules in chemical
interactions that take place in fires, automobiles and chemical plants.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and
engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare.
The academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act, signed by Abraham
Lincoln, calling on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal
government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. This year’s
new members brought the total number of current active members to 1,773.

Although anyone may suggest a name for membership, formal proposals for
nomination must come from members of the academy. The members of the academy
belong to various disciplinary sections; these sections consider a large number
of candidates and, from this group, select a few for nomination and possible
election. New members and foreign associates are elected annually at the
academy’s annual meeting in April.


For more information about
Robert Curl see: http://pchem1.rice.edu/FacultyStaff/Curl.html.
For more information about the National Academy of Sciences, see http://www.nas.edu.

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