Washington, DC. Each year the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) recognizes eminent individuals or groups for outstanding contributions to the biological sciences. Since 1972, AIBS has presented the Distinguished Scientist Award annually to individuals who have made significant scientific contributions to the biological sciences, particularly in the fields of integrative and organismal biology. The award is presented at the AIBS Annual Meeting. The 2009 Annual Meeting was recently held in Arlington, Virginia.
The 2009 AIBS Distinguished Scientist Award was presented to Joseph Felsenstein, Ph.D. Felsenstein is a graduate of the 213th class of Philadelphia's historic and prestigious Central High School. Felsenstein is currently Professor of Genome Sciences and Biology at the University of Washington. After graduation from Central High in 1960, he received his undergraduate training at the University of Wisconsin, and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1968. After postdoctoral research in Edinburgh he began a career at the University of Washington. He has worked in theoretical population genetics, but is best known for work on statistical inference of evolutionary trees, and is the author of PHYLIP, one of the first widely-distributed packages of computer programs for inferring evolutionary trees, as well as the book Inferring Phylogenies. By playing a major role in establishing a rigorous basis for phylogenetic inference, Felsenstein enhanced the field of systematics and helped shape the way scientists think about evolutionary biology.
Another Central High Graduate, Louis J. Gross, Ph.D. received the 2006 AIBS Distinguished Scientist Award for his contributions to the field of ecology. Gross is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he has been since 1979. Gross graduated from Central High with the 228th graduating class in 1969. Gross then earned his undergraduate degree in Mathematics at Drexel University and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. His research focuses on applications of mathematics and computer methods in disease and landscape ecology, spatial control for natural resource management, and the development of quantitative curricula for life science undergraduates. He is well known for service on numerous editorial boards, holding leadership positions in several scientific societies, editing four books on biology, and for being a leader in promoting the interaction of scientists and educators in envisioning the future of biology education. Gross currently serves on the AIBS Board of Directors and is the director of the National Science Foundation funded National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee.
Both Felsenstein and Gross are among a long line of eminent scientists and scholars to graduate from Central High School, including NASA astronaut James P. Bagian, Nobel prize-winning geneticist Howard Temin, and linguist Noam Chomsky.
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American Institute of Biological Sciences