Two UCSB faculty members were recently honored as inductees of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Academy selected physics professor Gary Horowitz and Earth science professor Douglas Burbank as two of this year’s newest members. The induction ceremony is scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. next April. Once inducted, members are in the academy for life. To date, there are 32 active UCSB faculty members in the academy.
Horowitz, who has taught at UCSB since 1983, said he was both shocked and honored to receive the news.
“I was delighted and very surprised,” Horowitz said. “I was called at about 5:50 in the morning and I was sleeping. But I was very happy to hear the news; it was a great honor, of course.”
Horowitz was recognized by the academy for his work on gravitational physics. His major developments in physics extended Einstein’s theory of relativity by combining general relativity with quantum mechanics.
Professor Burbank — who has taught at UCSB since 2001 and also serves as the director of UCSB’s Institute for Crustal Studies — is currently out of the country and could not be reached for comment.
“When I called Doug that morning to tell him the news, he was getting ready to fly to China to do more research with the geologists there, so it was fitting that he was honored,” Michael Witherell, UCSB vice chancellor of research, said. “He is a great leader in geology.”
Professor Burbank’s research focuses on interplay between the Earth’s surface and climate, specifically how climate shapes landscapes and how that interaction occurs over time, Earth science professor Frank Spera said.
“Professor Burbank studies the evolution of climate and landscape and how they relate to one another, particularly in the Tibetan plateau,” Spera said. “India has crashed into Asia — its plate has pushed from Africa all the way to India and has caused the Himalayan Mountains to become lifted. These high mountains affect the Earth’s climate, and Burbank has studied the process of how this action has unfolded.”
Andre Wyss, vice chair of the Dept. of Earth Science, said Burbank’s induction into the academy is a great honor.
“It’s the pinnacle of success in science to be named to that group,” Wyss said. “It’s almost like being named to the Supreme Court of science.”