|Two SAS Scientists to Endowed Chairs
February 12, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 21
Dr. Vijay Balasubramanian and Dr. Nancy Bonini have received appointments to endowed professorships in the School of Arts & Sciences.
Dr. Balasubramanian has been named the Cathy and Marc Lasry Professor of Physics & Astronomy. His research focuses on basic questions concerning the nature of space and time. His other interests include string theory, particle physics, high energy physics and neuroscience. He teaches the capstone course for the computational neuroscience minor in the Biological Basis of Behavior program and, in addition to his appointment in the physics & astronomy department, is an associate professor of neuroscience in the department of neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine. He was a 2006 recipient of the Ira H. Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching, the highest teaching honor in the School of Arts & Sciences.
From 1997 to 2000, Dr. Balasubramanian was a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and was also a fellow at-large at the Santa Fe Institute. In 2006, he received the first prize in the Gravity Research Foundation essay competition. He earned his PhD in theoretical physics and computer science from Princeton University.
This chair was established by Mr. and Mrs. Marc Lasry. Mr. Lasry is a founder and managing partner of Avenue Capital Group and the founder and senior managing director of Amroc Investments.
Dr. Nancy Bonini has been named the Florence R. C. Murray Professor of Biology. Her research focuses on molecular genetic approaches to neurodegenerative disease, using fruit flies to define genes that factor into human brain disease. Through these studies, her work will identify suppressor mutations that can prevent or delay brain degeneration—research that can be applied to conditions like Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron diseases.
In addition to her appointment in biology, Dr. Bonini holds a secondary appointment in the department of neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine. She has also been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2000. In 2012, Dr. Bonini was elected as a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine—two of the nation’s highest scholarly honors (Almanac May 8, 2012).
Her work has garnered several awards, including the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging Research and the National Institutes of Health’s Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA) award in 2009. Dr. Bonini was a David and Lucile Packard Fellow in 1997 and won a John Merck Scholars Award in the Biology of Developmental Disabilities in Children in 1995. She has authored dozens of articles for various academic publications.
The Florence R. C. Murray Charitable Trust was established in 1980 upon the death of Ms. Murray. In accordance with her interest in education, this endowed chair was given to Penn through the trust’s final distribution in 1990.