Winners of this year’s Wilbur Cross Medal to discuss their work

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Four accomplished alumni who earned a Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will receive the school’s highest honor, the Wilbur Cross Medal, and give public talks about their work on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

The medal is named in honor of Wilbur Cross, dean of the Graduate School from 1916 to 1930, and a noted scholar, editor, university administrator and, after his retirement from Yale, governor of Connecticut for four terms. Every year since 1966, alumni of the Graduate School have been honored for outstanding achievement in one or more of the areas in which Cross excelled.

The talks by this year’s recipients will all take place at 4 p.m. and are all open to the public. The 2011 Wilbur Cross Medalists, their talk topics and locations are:

Stanley Fish ‘62 Ph.D. (English), the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law, Florida International University

“Academic Freedom Studies: The Inauguration of a New Field,” Rm. 102, Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High St.

Leslie F. Greengard ‘87 M.D., ‘87 Ph.D. (computer science), professor of mathematics and computer science, and director, Courant Institute, New York University

“Fast Algorithms and Potential Theory in Scientific Computing,” Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave.

Bernice A. Pescosolido ‘82 Ph.D. (sociology), Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Indiana University

“Reining In Complexity:  A Sociological Vision of Collective Life,” Rm. 208, Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

Huntington F. Willard ‘79 Ph.D. (genetics), the Nanaline H. Duke Professor of Genome Sciences, Duke University

“Chromosomal and Genomic Mechanisms of Gene Expression, Control and Inheritance,” Brady Auditorium, 320 Cedar St.

Biographies of this year’s recipients follow:

Stanley Fish

Fish has been hailed as one of the most prolific and important literary and cultural critics alive today. In addition to Florida International University, he has taught English, political science, criminal justice, religion, and law at the University of California-Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Illinois, and Cardozo Law School. His lively, often irreverent essays on a wide range of topics appear regularly in The New York Times and on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. His 1967 book on English poet John Milton, “Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost,” not only turned the field of Milton Studies upside down but became one of the most influential books of literary criticism on any subject published over the course of several decades. His work on “reader-response criticism” drew attention to the process of reading and the significance of a reader’s experience, creating an entirely new set of tools with which to make sense of literature. He is the author of about 200 scholarly publications and over a dozen books, including “Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities”; “Save the World on Your Own Time”; “There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too”; and, most recently, “How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.”

Leslie F. Greengard

Greengard is one of the world’s leading applied mathematicians and computational scientists. He has made - and continues to make - fundamental contributions to his field that have changed the standards of what can be computed and how accurately it can be done. Working with collaborators, students and postdocs, he has creatively solved problems that conventional wisdom said were unsolvable. The Fast Multipole Method (FMM), which he introduced with his colleague Vladimir Rokhlin, was cited by the American Institute of Physics and the IEEE Computer Society as one of the top 10 algorithms of the 20th century. The FMM provides a way to calculate gravitational or electrostatic forces and solve problems related to Maxwell’s equations. This algorithm and its variants are now at the core of large-scale simulation packages in molecular dynamics, quantum chemistry, chip design, radar analysis, remote sensing, fluid mechanics and a host of other applications. Greengard’s other work includes representation of electromagnetic fields, non-reflecting boundary conditions for wave propagation, and random dispersion - major discoveries in very different areas. Greengard’s honors include the American Mathematical Society’s Steele Prize, shared with Professor Rokhlin, and election to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Bernice A. Pescosolido

Pescosolido is known for her groundbreaking research, outstanding teaching and mentorship, and notable professional contributions. Serving on advisory boards and panels, she has shaped the issues she studies and influenced how sociologists think about teaching and learning. Her research focuses on the processes that promote and inhibit access to medical and mental health care, especially among disadvantaged populations. In the early 1990s, she developed a model that illuminated how people come to recognize the onset of health problems, respond to them and make use of health care services. She has initiated major national and international studies of the stigmatization of people with mental illness. Pescosolido’s honors include the Leo G. Reeder Award for a career of distinguished scholarship in medical sociology from the American Sociological Association, the Wilbert Hites Mentoring Award from Indiana University, and the inaugural Carla B. Howery Award for Developing Teacher-Scholars from the American Sociological Association (ASA). Her professional leadership positions include election as vice president of the ASA and chair of its Section on Sociology of Mental Health and t Section on Medical Sociology.

Huntington F. Willard

Willard has been a leader in genetics research since his doctoral dissertation on the biochemical genetics of human metabolic diseases, which resulted in 15 peer-reviewed papers in distinguished journals. Since then, he has written or co-written over 300 scientific publications and is co-author of “Genetics in Medicine,” a widely used textbook, now in its seventh edition. Willard’s most influential discovery was the mechanism of X chromosome inactivation in humans. With colleagues, he identified a previously unknown transcript called XIST, which coats the chromosome from which it is expressed although it encodes no protein. His discovery of a mutation in the XIST promoter confirmed the role of this non-coding RNA in silencing one of the two X chromosomes in all mammalian females. Willard has been president of the American Society of Human Genetics and chair of the Review Panel of Genome Canada; he served on the Genetics Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, co-founded the journal Human Molecular Genetics, and was a member of the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society. His honors include the William Allan Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, a Faculty Excellence award from Duke University, and election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345