Chancellor's Friday Letters

Kudos to Achievers

Kudos to Achievers

May 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

The first known use that I could find of the word kudos is 1831, the word being derived from the Greek kŷdos describing “magical glory.”  While there is some debate over whether kudos is singular or plural in its intent, there is wide agreement that kudos is praise given for achievement…accolades.

And kudos indeed for two of our faculty members, Natasha Raikhel and Chandra Varma.

Natasha Raikhel is Distinguished Professor of Plant Cell Biology and directs the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology as well as the Center for Plant Cell Biology.  This week she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest and most competitive honors that can be bestowed on a scientist.

Professor Raikhel is one of the most cited researchers in the world in her field. She pioneered the use of chemical genomics in plants, which uses chemicals to alter the function of specific proteins without killing the plant. She is now harnessing the high-throughput capacity of new multidisciplinary methods (such as engineering modeling tools and computational biology) to integrate molecular information into a more comprehensive “systems biology” view of plants, thereby advancing knowledge.

Professor Raikhel’s lasting scientific contributions to plant biology involve breakthroughs in our understanding, at the genetic level, of the synthesis of plant cell wall “polysaccharides” (carbohydrates made by, or found in, living organisms) and the molecular mechanisms governing protein-trafficking in plants.  Knowledge gained from her research can address, ultimately, the challenges we face on the increasing world-wide demand for food, global warming, and biofuel production.

Chandra Varma is Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and is among the top 10-15 condensed matter theorists in the world and one of the most cited in his field.

Professor’s Varma recently received the 2012 John Bardeen Prize, which is given every three years for theoretical work that has provided significant insights on the nature of superconductivity. John Bardeen is the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice, and of the 13 previous recipients of the Bardeen award, three have gone on to earn the Nobel Prize.

Professor Varma’s work focuses on superconductivity. Superconductors conduct electricity with near-zero resistance below a specific temperature. Superconductors are used in electric power transformers and magnetic resonance imaging machines, among other applications. Professor Varma developed a controversial theory about high-temperature superconductors that conduct electricity with near-zero resistance at temperatures much higher than was previously thought possible.

Professor Varma’s controversial prediction of a theory on high-temperature superconductivity could assist in the fabrication of materials that superconduct at room temperature. His theories have challenged accepted thinking throughout the field of physics, and will lead to new knowledge in many other areas.

I speak for all of us in the UCR community in expressing great pride in their accomplishments, and shout out hearty congratulations.



Tim White, Chancellor

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