April 28, 1999

Cornell's Robert O. Pohl and Jeffrey W. Roberts are elected to the National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has elected two Cornell University faculty members, physics professor Robert O. Pohl and biochemistry professor Jeffrey W. Roberts, as new members.

The April 27 election brings to 42 the number of Cornell faculty members in the organization of scientists and engineers, which is dedicated to the furtherance of science and its contributions to general welfare. In the 1999 election, a total of 60 new members and 15 foreign associates were chosen "in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research." The organization, established by Congress in 1836 as an official adviser to the federal government in science and technology, now has 1,825 active members.

Cornell President Hunter Rawlings greeted the news of the election with enthusiasm: "This news is most welcome and confirms once again Cornell's high standing in scientific research. It was a pleasure for me to join physics and biology colleagues in celebrating our two new members of the academy, both of whom have served their entire professional careers at Cornell."

Pohl was a research associate in physics at Cornell from 1958 to 1960 and became an assistant professor of physics in 1960. He is based in the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. His research involves lattice vibrations of amorphous and disordered crystalline solids.

Born in Gottingen, Germany, in 1929, Pohl earned a B.A. (1951) at the University of Freiburg and an M.S. (1955) and Ph.D. (1957) at the University of Erlangen. Pohl's previous honors include election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as a Fellow of the American Physical Society; the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize (1985); an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (1980-81); and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1973-74).

Roberts joined the Cornell faculty as an assistant professor in 1974 and is now the Robert J. Appel Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Section of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology. He served as chair of that department from 1988 to 1993. Roberts' current research centers on transcription antiterminators, the genetic regulatory proteins that control a key step in messenger RNA synthesis by the enzyme RNA polymerase.

Roberts was born in Flint, Mich., in 1944 and earned his B.A. (1964) in physics and liberal arts at the University of Texas and a Ph.D. (1970) in biophysics at Harvard University, where he was a research fellow in biochemistry (1971-73). He is a co-author, with James D. Watson, of Molecular Biology of the Gene, 4th Edition. His previous honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of Fellows of Harvard University (1970-73) and the Career Development Award of the National Institutes of Health.