Prize for A&S Alumna
Believe it or Not, Raindrops Can Be Massive
A&S Alumna Honored for Water Rescue
Other Awards, Honors, and Professorships
Nobel Prize for A&S Alumna Linda Buck
Linda Buck ('75), recipient of a 2004 Nobel Prize in physiology
or medicine. Photo by Todd McNaught.
Linda Buck, a scientist
at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research
Center and alumna of the UW College of Arts and Sciences, was
named winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in
She received the award for her groundbreaking work on odorant receptors
and the organization of the olfactory system —the network
responsible for our sense of smell. She shares the honor with Richard
Axel of Columbia University.
Buck graduated from the UW with a B.S. in psychology and microbiology
in 1975. She joined Fred Hutchinson’s faculty in 2002 after
11 years as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She is also
an affiliate professor in the UW
Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
Buck was a senior postdoc in Axel’s laboratory when she disclosed
the nature of the olfactory receptors. The work, published in 1991
by Buck and Axel, is the first to define one of our sensory systems
in the most detailed manner possible by defining the genes and proteins
that control this remarkably complex response.
The basic principles for recognizing and remembering about 10,000
different odors have long been a mystery. Buck discovered a large
gene family, made up of some 1,000 different genes that give rise
to an equivalent number of olfactory-receptor types. These receptors
are located on the olfactory receptor cells, which occupy a small
area in the upper part of the lining of the nose and detect the
inhaled odorant molecules.
Buck has also discovered and characterized families of receptors
for pheromones and tastes, providing insights into the mechanisms
underlying pheromone effects and taste perception.
“Linda Buck and Richard Axel’s work opened the door
on one of the most ancient aspects of our brain and they have each
continued to provide seminal insights over the last decade into
the mechanisms by which it works,” says Lee Hartwell, Fred
Hutchinson’s president and director. “Their recognition
by the Nobel committee will be celebrated by the entire scientific
it Or Not, Raindrops Can Be Massive
Peter Hobbs, UW professor of atmospheric
sciences, and Art Rangno, UW atmospheric sciences research meteorologist,
have co-authored many articles on clouds and precipitation. Now
the two scientists will be highlighted in a less academic publication:
The Guinness Book of World Records (2006 edition). It seems
they have been recognized by the Guinness Book for measuring some
of the largest raindrops ever observed.
The distinction makes sense, given the amount of time the two scientists
have spent flying through clouds for their research. Rangno figures
he has been flight meteorologist or flight scientist on more than
700 research flights; Hobbs has racked up more than 200 flights.
As they traveled through clouds, the research aircraft digitally
measured and recorded the sizes of droplets, the types of ice particles,
the temperature, the humidity, and more than 50 other parameters
So just how large were those raindrops that earned them a place
in the Guinness Book of World Records? At least 8.8 millimeters,
and possibly as large as 1 cm—about four-tenths of an inch
or one-fourth the diameter of a golf ball. But don’t expect
to be pummeled by such massive raindrops on the ground. These raindrops
were observed in the clouds, over both the Amazon Basin and the
“It’s rare to see a raindrop of 5 millimeters or more
on the ground, because it would mean the drop had avoided collisions
with the many other drops in a cloud, which causes it to break up,”
Hobbs and Rangno first published their findings in the online edition
of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical
Union, which later attracted the attention of the Guinness Book
Alumna Honored for Water Rescue
When Julia Ruthford (‘98) headed out to Puget Sound’s
Henderson Bay to windsurf on a December afternoon, she had no idea
she would be saving lives. By the end of the day, she had rescued
three young men from the bay’s chilly waters. Her rescue earned
her the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal, its most
distinguished annual employee award.
Ruthford, who earned her B.S. in atmospheric
sciences from the UW in 1998, is a meteorologist in the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-tration’s Juneau National
Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office.
Ruthford had returned to the Seattle area for the holidays and decided
to don a full wetsuit to do some windsurfing near the Tacoma Narrows
Bridge. That’s when she saw strong winds capsize a catamaran,
spilling its three passengers into the chilly, rough water. The
men were wearing only t-shirts and shorts—and life jackets—at
the time of the accident. Winds of 25 mph, gusting to near 50 mph,
were causing waves more than five feet high.
“It looked like one or two of them didn’t hold onto
the boat so they got separated,” Ruthford told KIRO-TV after
the accident. “The one guy who stayed with the boat was having
trouble getting it righted.”
Luckily for the men, Ruthford is an experienced sailor as well as
a skilled windsurfer. She expertly sailed over to check the condition
of the two men who had drifted about 100 yards from the boat, then
sailed back to the third man and helped him right the boat. Abandoning
her own board, she then climbed in the boat with the exhausted man
and sailed the boat over to the other two men still in the water.
After retrieving them, she sailed all three men and the boat safely
back to shore where paramedics took the men to the hospital.
According to Tom Ainsworth, head of the NWS Forecast Office in Juneau,
“Ms. Ruthford’s vigilant awareness of her environmental
surroundings and concern for the welfare of others during hazardous
weather events typifies the heroism she exhibits daily while carrying
out the mission of the NWS.”
Awards and Honors
professor of history, won the 2003 Donald Gray Prize from the North
American Victorian Studies Association for his article, “Grave
Doubts: Victorian Medicine, Moral Panic, and the Signs of Death,”
in the Journal of British Studies.
Brenda Bell, journalism instructor in the Department
of Communication, won an Alternative Newsweekly Award for an article
she wrote for the Texas Observer on Canadian writer Fred
Bodsworth and the extinction of the Eskimo curlew.
Elizabeth Cooper, associate professor and director
of the Dance Program, has been invited to teach master classes in
Advanced Ballet for the Shanghai Ballet Company at the Beijing Dance
Company as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration.
Daniel Gamelin, assistant professor of chemistry,
has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and
Engineers, considered the highest honor for professionals at the
beginning of their independent research career.
Charles Keyes, professor of anthropology, will
be the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Mahasarakham University
in Thailand, in recognition of his extensive published research
in the region.
David Montgomery, professor of earth and space
sciences, was honored by the Washington Center for the Book for
his book, King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon.
Donald Petersen, chair of the Arts and Sciences
Advisory Board, has been awarded the Gates Volunteer Service Award
by the UW Foundation Board for his demonstrated commitment to the
UW community through exemplary leadership, talent, and time given
solely for the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives
William P. Reinhardt, professor of chemistry, was
the R. Stephen Berry Public Lecturer in Telluride, Colorado in August,
sponsored by the Telluride Summer Research Center and The Pinhead
Jaromir Ruzicka, professor of chemistry, received
the 2004 European Federation of Chemical Societies R. Kellner Award.
Stuart Scheingold, professor emeritus of political
science, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Law &
Courts Section of the American Political Science Association for
significant, pathbreaking, lasting contributions to the field and
Akio Takamori, associate professor of ceramics
in the School of Art, and Robert Jones, professor
emeritus of painting and drawing, were among ten visual artists
to receive a 2003/2004 Flintridge Foundation Award, which includes
a $25,000 unrestricted grant.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History, has been
elected to a three-year term on the AHA Council, the governing board
of the American Historical Association.
Crispin Thurlow, assistant professor of communication,
received the James J. Bradac Award for Outstanding Research by a
Junior Scholar at the International Conference on Language &
Social Psychology, for his journal article, “Naming the ‘outsider
within’: Homophobic pejoratives and the verbal abuse of lesbian,
gay and bisexual high-school pupils.”
Gunther Uhlmann, professor of mathematics, will
be delivering one of the Invited Addresses at the Annual Meeting
of the American Mathematical Society— among the most prestigious
addresses a mathematician can give.
[Autumn 2004 - Table of Contents]