Four alumni of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be awarded Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals, the school’s highest honor, and talk about their work on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
This year’s honorees are cultural critic Fredric Jameson, molecular biologist Alan M. Lambowitz, political theorist Theodore J. Lowi, and editor and publisher Annette Thomas, CEO of MacMillan Science and Education, London.
The medals will be presented at a celebratory dinner hosted by Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard. Yale President Peter Salovey, and Valerie Hotchkiss '90 Ph.D., chair of the Graduate School Alumni Association Board, will participate in the awards ceremony.
Earlier that day, each medalist will give a talk and meet with faculty and students. All of the talks are free and open to the public.
- “A Conversation with Ted Lowi,” noon, Institution for Social and Policy Studies. Rm. B217, 77 Prospect St. Space is limited.
- “Biotechnological applications of mobile group II introns: targetrons and new methods for RNA-seq and analysis of non-coding RNAs,” by Lambowitz, 2 p.m., Brady Auditorium (B131–BML), 310 Cedar St. A tea will take place at 1:45 p.m..
- "Proust and the Persistence of Narrative" by Jameson, 4 p.m., Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium, 53 Wall St.
- “Science and Education in the Digital Age,” by Thomas, 4 p.m., Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave. A tea will take place at 3:45 p.m.
Biographies of this year’s winners follow:
Fredric Jameson, who earned his Ph.D. in French from Yale in 1959, is a world-renowned cultural critic and the William A. Lane Jr., Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University, where he has been on the faculty since 1985. He is the founder and director of Duke’s Institute for Critical Theory. With “Sartre, The Origin of a Style” (his very first book, published by Yale University Press in 1961), he became a prominent voice in comparative literature. Whether writing about the function of a literary device (such as the flashback), a genre (such as allegory), or an entire literary movement (such as “magical realism”), Jameson connects literature to economic forces, specifically Marxism. “The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act” is one of the most-cited of all works on English language literary theory in the past half century. Jameson’s interests span many countries and languages, genres, and disciplines, including modernism and postmodernism, science fiction, third-world literature and cinema, the Frankfurt School, and more. He is author of 20 books of criticism and more than 150 scholarly articles.
Alan M. Lambowitz graduated from Yale in 1972 with a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics & biochemistry. He is director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds two endowed professorships and runs a groundbreaking lab. His research employs a combination of genetic, biochemical, and structural approaches to investigate gene expression, RNA splicing, mobile self-splicing introns, and retroviral-like genetic elements. Among other outstanding accomplishments, his lab discovered and described Neurospora mitochondrial retroplasmids — the simplest retro-element — laying the groundwork for tracing the evolution of modern retroviruses such as HIV back to much simpler RNA viruses. He also devised a method to target a single, specific gene in an organism’s DNA, to alter its biological function. This has been developed commercially and become a powerful tool for “genetic surgery,” in widespread use for bacterial gene disruption.
Theodore J. Lowi is the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University and former president of both the American and the International Political Science Associations. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from Yale in 1961. His book “The End of Liberalism” (1969) was an instant classic and has left a lasting mark on the field. Lowi’s classification of the public policy realm into “distributive,” “redistributive,” and “regulatory” sectors has been widely influential in practical politics and political theory. His recent research and writing involves the politics of globalization, a critical history of the American Democratic party, and a computer project that links information to methodology, creating a new approach to political theory. He is co-editor, with Isaac Kramnick, of “The Norton Anthology of American Political Thought” and author of “The End of the Republican Era,” “The Pursuit of Justice,” and other books.
Annette Thomas, after completing her dissertation at Yale in 1993 on membrane traffic events in neuroendocrine cells and neurons, accepted a position as an assistant editor with the journal Nature, where she was responsible for selecting the cell biology and neurosciences manuscripts to be published. She was quickly promoted to associate editor. After launching the popular “Nature Insight” program, “Nature Cell Biology,” and the “Nature Reviews” series, she was appointed president and managing director of Nature Publishing Group (NPG), with overall editorial and financial responsibility for NPG’s projects. Under her leadership, NPG expanded into the physical sciences and clinical medicine and launched new titles. Thomas is now CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, a global array of science, scholarly and education businesses in which NPG is included. She was the first publisher to join the advisory board of the National Institutes of Health.
The Yale Graduate School Alumni Association established the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal in 1966 to honor a small number of outstanding alumni each year. The medal recognizes distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service — all areas in which Cross excelled.
An alumnus of Yale College and the Graduate School (1889, Ph.D. English), Cross was a scholar of distinction, a distinguished literary critic, journal editor, and dean of the Graduate School 1916–1930. Following his retirement from academia, he served as governor of Connecticut for four terms.