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French, Ambros, and Pacala Elected to AAAS, NAS

Two members of the Dartmouth faculty and a Dartmouth alumnus were elected recently to prestigious national academies. Kenneth R. French, the Carl E. and Catherine M. Heidt Professor of Finance at the Tuck School of Business, was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences elected as members Victor Ambros, professor of genetics at Dartmouth Medical School, and Stephen W. Pacala '78, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.

Kenneth R. French
Kenneth R. French (Photo courtesy Tuck School of Business)
Victor Ambros
Victor Ambros
Stephen W. Pacala '78
Stephen W. Pacala '78 (Photo courtesy Princeton University)

French is among the 203 new fellows and 24 new foreign honorary members who were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) on April 30. Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholars, the AAAS has sought out "the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th." The class of 2007 joins a current membership that includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

An expert in finance, French is best known for the Fama-French Three Factor Model, which he developed with colleague Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago. More recently, French has focused his research on empirical estimates of the cross-section of expected stock returns, the cost of capital, dividend policy, and capital structure. At Tuck, he teaches the popular Investments course, which nearly half of all second-year students took this past fall. French is the 2007 president of the American Finance Association, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, an advisory editor of the Journal of Financial Economics, a former associate editor of the Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Finance, and a former director of the Center for Research in Security Prices. He graduated from Lehigh University with a B.S. degree in 1975, and then obtained M.B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester.

Ambros is among 72 scientists newly named to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS is "a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare," according to the Academy. "It was established in 1863... to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology." Those elected on May 1, for their "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research," bring the total number of active members to 2,025.

Widely recognized for his groundbreaking studies of gene regulation, Ambros discovered a tiny new RNA molecule, surprising in its ultra-small size and unconventional activity. Today, these microRNAs are recognized to be an abundant and varied class that play critical roles in the regulatory circuitry of the genome. In 2005, Ambros received the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research for "pioneering achievements in the discovery of gene silencing by double-stranded RNA." Ambros received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT in 1975 and 1979, respectively. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1984 and came to Dartmouth in 1992. Ambros serves on the board of directors of the Genetics Society of America and the editorial board of the journal RNA Biology. He is the past chair of the National Institutes of Health Genetics Study Section.

Pacala, the Frederick D. Petrie Professor at Princeton University in its department of ecology and evolutionary biology, earned a B.A. from Dartmouth in 1978 and worked both as a research assistant and a teaching assistant during his undergraduate years. He obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1982 and was on the faculty of the University of Connecticut before joining the Princeton faculty in 1992. Pacala's primary research interests are in the processes that govern ecological communities, the interplay between community and ecosystem-level processes, and the interactions between the global biosphere and climate. He is the director of the Princeton Environmental Institute and co-director of Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Initiative.

By REBECCA BAILEY and HALI WICKNER

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Last Updated: 12/17/08