Four UC Berkeley faculty members joined the California Academy of Sciences as fellows earlier this month, joining the group of about 300 fellows currently at the academy.
Of the 10 new fellows announced Oct. 4, three are UC Berkeley professors Claire Kremen, Mark Richards and Benito Tan, and one is adjunct professor Jonathon Stillman.
Each year, the academy elects up to 15 scientists to join the fellowship, and the number of scientists elected each year depends on the caliber of the scientists in the nominee pool. Existing fellows nominate the researchers, and once researchers are elected to the academy, they stay on as fellows for life.
According to Terrence Gosliner, dean of science and research collections at the California Academy of Sciences, the fellows are selected based on several criteria: having a proven record of scientific excellence and a good track record in collaboration, being able to attract external grants, doing integrative research “that cuts across disciplines” and doing research relevant to current events in society, among others.
“We’re looking for people with a proven record of really advancing their science,” Gosliner said. “It’s not just doing routine publications with scientific approaches but really moving the needle in a particular field.”
A professor in the campus department of earth and planetary science and dean of the division of mathematical and physical sciences, Richards said he plans to continue geological research on the Galapagos Islands as a fellow of the academy in upcoming years.
Richards, who has been researching the Galapagos on and off for two decades, said he plans to study how the islands’ geological and physical aspects are connected to the biological evolution of the islands’ species, which undergo significant evolutionary changes over time after they migrate. Richards’ research also involves studying how islands form and change over time.
According to Gosliner, one of the advantages of becoming a fellow includes networking with other scientists regionally and nationally. Fellows can attract external funding, and they can also contribute to increasing the breadth of scientific knowledge through working closely with the academy.
Tan, a researcher at the University and Jepson herbaria at UC Berkeley, said that as a fellow, he will take care of the academy’s moss collection by checking the specimens and making sure they are properly classified and maintained.
Prior to achieving his fellow status, Tan established strong relations with the academy by collaborating on a research expedition in the Philippines, where he studied moss.
The other fellows include Kremen, a professor within the College of Natural Resources whose research involves studying the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, and Stillman, an adjunct professor of integrative biology whose research involves studying the environmental physiology of marine life.
“Having four (UC) Berkeley faculty members nominated in that limited scope exemplifies how Cal has some of the leading top-notch scientists in the region and beyond,” Gosliner said.