For physics Professor Alan Heeger, last week’s election to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was another honor in a year in which he won the top prize in science.
For materials Professor Arthur Gossard, who went to Stockholm because of his critical role in producing materials for UCSB’s other Nobel Prize, election to the NAS was another vote of prestige for a man who was already a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
For UCSB, the election was another piece of national recognition.
Heeger and Gossard were elected during the National Academy’s annual meeting May 1 in Washington, D.C. The academy has 1,874 members nationwide, including 18 UCSB professors. Election is one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.
“It’s a complicated business and a long process,” said UCSB physics Professor James Langer, who is also NAS vice president, on the selection process. “Elections are on the basis of a whole research career, not just for one fantastic accomplishment.”
Gossard graduated with an undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1956 and with a graduate degree from Berkeley in 1960. Both degrees were in physics, a subject he enjoyed since his youth. After his first high school classes, he wanted to continue in a field he said gave him the ability to “take mathematics and apply it to everything around us.”
Gossard returned to the East Coast after graduating from Berkeley and began working at Bell Labs, one of the country’s premier research laboratories. The work he did there would later be used to develop materials used in cellular phones and CD players.
In 1987, he left Bell Labs for UCSB, where he became a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department. The same year, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, an honor he shares with 14 other UCSB professors.
Gossard’s work at Bell Labs was brought up again in October, when electrical and computer engineering Professor Herbert Kroemer won the Nobel Prize in physics. While at Bell Labs, Gossard developed the materials Kroemer used in his prize-winning work.
“We made materials at Bell Labs that they needed for the Nobel Prize, all kinds of materials that they needed to get those results,” Gossard said.
And so, in December, Gossard found himself in Stockholm along with Heeger and Kroemer.