Yale Names Wilbur Cross Medal Winners for 2003

The Alumni Association of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will award six Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals at Commencement this year.

Recipients are Edward Ayers, Gerald Brown, John Fenn, Robert D. Putnam, Charles Yanofsky and Susan Hockfield.

The medal is named for a former dean who served the Graduate School from 1916 to 1930. Cross was noted as a scholar, editor, university administrator and, after his retirement from Yale, governor of Connecticut for four terms.

Ayers, a professor of history at the University of Virginia, earned his Ph.D. from Yale in 1980 in American Studies. He is one of the pre-eminent historians of the American South and a pioneer in the creative use of the Internet for education and research. His 1992 book, “The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction,” won numerous awards and has become the standard work in the field. His commitment to the richness and multiplicity of historical experience is expressed in his most recent work, “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.” Bringing together a book-length narrative, a CD-ROM and an electronic archive, Ayers broke new ground, allowing students and scholars to click their way from the dramatic wartime story of the Shenandoah/Cumberland Valley to the sources themselves.

Brown earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale in 1950. A leader in nuclear theory, many-body physics and astrophysics, he has made seminal contributions in diverse areas, from atomic physics and low-energy nuclear physics to astrophysics and relativistic heavy-ion reactions. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he and Nobel Laureate Hans Bethe described the nuclear physics basis of stellar collapse and supernova, initiating a long and fruitful collaboration in astrophysics. A faculty member at the State University of New York (Stony Brook) since 1988, Brown is considered one of the most distinguished and creative nuclear physicists worldwide.

Nobel Laureate Fenn completed his Ph.D. at Yale in 1940 in chemistry. Professor of Chemical Engineering at Yale from 1967 until 1987, his study of molecular beams led to ground-breaking discoveries and analytical techniques. His research not only figured prominently in the Nobel Prizes awarded for Chemistry in 1986, it also led him to important new work on the mass spectroscopy of proteins-the building blocks of life. His later work developing the electro-spray ionization source has made possible the tandem combination of the liquid chromatograph with the mass spectrometer, which now serves the biochemical/pharmaceutical and environmental engineering communities as their most powerful analytical tool. For this accomplishment, he was named one of the three 2002 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry.

Harvard University Professor Putnam earned his Ph.D. from Yale in political science in 1970. An academic innovator, distinguished scholar and dedicated teacher, his recent book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” has resonated from scholarly halls to the popular media and given new life to the idea of “social capital.” His other books, including “Making Democracy Work” and Double-Edge Diplomacy” have made important research findings about polity and society accessible to a broad readership, causing him to be likened to Alexis de Toqueville.

Yanofsky earned a Ph.D. in 1951 from Yale in microbiology. His landmark studies have led to the verification of many features of the genetic code and the nature of mutational changes. These studies, crucial to the analysis of chromosomes and to the development of the fields of genomics and proteomics, were at the forefront of the advances in biology in the second half of the 20th century. Yanofsky taught at Stanford from 1958 till his retirement in 2000. He has been given many awards in recognition of his achievements, including an honorary doctorate from Yale.

Hockfield, appointed Provost of Yale University in December 2002, was dean of the Graduate School for the preceding four and a half years. She pursued her research in neuroscience while creating an unprecedented sense of community at the Graduate School. As a member of the neurobiology faculty since 1985, Hockfield has explored the development of the mammalian brain and conducted research on proteins that may play a role in the progression of brain tumors. Under her leadership, students of the Graduate School received unprecedented academic, social and financial support through programs that she created and enhanced.

Every year since 1966, alumni and distinguished friends of the Graduate School have been honored for outstanding achievements in one or more of the areas in which Wilbur Lucius Cross excelled. Former medalists include statesman Ernesto Zedillo, environmentalist Thomas Lovejoy, economist Janet Yellin and author Thomas Wolfe.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325