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Wilbur Cross Medals to Honor Five Outstanding Achievers from the Graduate School

September 28, 2015

Five extraordinary people will receive Wilbur Cross Medals, the highest honor conferred by the Graduate School and the Graduate School Alumni Association, on October 27.

This year, the honors will go to four alumni: Carol Dweck (PhD 1972, Psychology), Philip Hanawalt (PhD 1959, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry), Jeremy Bradford Cook Jackson (PhD 1971, Geology and Geophysics), and Jonathan Z. Smith (PhD 1969, Religious Studies). A fifth Wilbur Cross Medal will be given to former Dean Thomas Pollard, honoris causa, in recognition of his extraordinary service to the Graduate School.

The award, established in 1966, is named for Wilbur Lucius Cross (PhD 1889, English), who served as Dean of the Graduate School from 1916 to 1930, during the Graduate School's reorganization into its present form. The medal recognizes distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service – all areas in which the legendary Dean Cross excelled. Cross was a scholar of distinction in English literature. He taught at the Sheffield Scientific School, the precursor to Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, rejuvenated the Yale Review as its editor, and co-edited The Yale Shakespeare. Following his retirement from the university, he served as Governor of Connecticut for four terms.

Introducing the 2015 Wilbur Cross Medalists

Carol Dweck

Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck is arguably the most eminent social developmental psychologist of our time. She has worked on topics ranging from learning theory to prejudice, but her landmark work centers on children’s implicit theories of personality and ability and how these theories influence their performance and motivation.

Her research has demonstrated that individuals who believe that their intellectual abilities can be improved if they work harder are more likely to succeed than those who believe their personal growth and development are genetically determined and therefore fixed. As this work continues to spread through real world settings, it is having a transformative effect on educational theory and practice as well as on developmental psychology.

Dweck is the author of three books on this topic: Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential (Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2012), Mindset: The new psychology of success (Random House, 2006), and Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development (Psychology Press, 1999). In addition, she has published over 150 scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Her books have been translated into 18 languages and her articles are among the most frequently cited in her field.

In addition to countless keynote addresses and endowed lectureships, Dweck has been honored with the E. L. Thorndike Career Achievement Award in Educational Psychology; the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award; the Campbell Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Social Psychology; Award for Innovative Program of the Year from the Association for Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD); the Ann L. Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental
Research; and the Leadership Award from Teachers College, Columbia University, among many others. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Philip Hanawalt

Hanawalt is the Dr. Morris Herzstein Professor in Biology at Stanford University, specializing in DNA repair and mutagenesis. As a graduate student, he studied the inhibitory effect of ultraviolet light on DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. In the years since, he has continued to make groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting discoveries. Colleagues have called him “a living legend” and said he has had an “indelible impact” on his field.

At Stanford in the 1980s, he discovered the pathway of transcription-coupled repair, a finding that has had profound implications for the fields of mutagenesis, environmental carcinogenesis, aging, and risk assessment. His work has had a major impact on deciphering the mechanistic basis of conserved biological pathways that are critically important for genome maintenance.

Hanawalt is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received many honors for his research, including the International Mutation Award, the Annual Award for Excellence in Basic Science from the Environmental Mutagen Society and the Rothschild-Yvette Mayent-Institut Curie Award and Lectureship in Paris. In addition, he has been honored for his teaching, winning the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Northern California Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and the Peter and Helen Bing Award for Distinguished Teaching from Stanford. He has served on the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Cancer Research and was a reviewing editor for the journal Science. He has organized many scientific conferences, served on NIH study sections and reviewing panels, and served as president of the Environmental Mutagen Society.

Jeremy Bradford Cook Jackson

Jackson is senior adjunct scientist at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, scientific director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and professor emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. He is considered the world’s foremost coral reef biologist and one of the most effective advocates for the marine environment.

While he was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins, Hurricane Allen hit the north coast of Jamaica with category 5 intensity in 1981, scouring the reef at Discovery Bay to its carbonate platform in many areas. This reef had been studied intensively by researchers for nearly two decades, and scientists expected that it would recover as the surviving corals grew and new corals joined the bare surface. But instead, macroalgae bloomed and the reef became a carpet of green slime. Using submarine experimentation, Jackson determined that humans had eaten virtually all the herbivorous fish, so when the algae appeared after the storm, there were no fish to consume them. His discovery radically altered our understanding of marine ecology.

Jackson next took a position at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where his study of the history of fishing revealed that the human impact on marine ecosystems goes back thousands of years and has accelerated in recent decades.

Moving to Scripps, where he led the Geoscience group, he became increasingly involved in public education and became a public voice advocating for ocean health and ocean policy. He has served on the advisory boards of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies.

Jackson’s honors include the Darwin Medal, Paleontological Medal, Peter Benchley Award, Roger Tory Peterson Medal, Edward T. LaRoe Memorial Award, and the International Award for Research in Ecology and Conservation. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Geological Society of America, the Society for Conservation Biology, among other professional associations.

Thomas Pollard

Pollard is the Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale. As Dean of the Graduate School, 2010–2014, he introduced changes that significantly improved the experience of graduate students while at Yale and enhanced their professional prospects. He advocated for more mentoring, more space for research, and more accountability on the part of both faculty and students. He worked closely with the Graduate School Alumni Association Board to help bring alumni to campus as career mentors. In addition to leading the Graduate School, he continued to conduct research in his lab using biochemical, biophysical, and cellular methods to study cellular motility and cell division.

After graduating from Pomona College, cum laude, with a BA in chemistry and zoology (while serving as president of a fraternity, captain of the cross country and track teams, and athletic commissioner in the student government), he earned his MD at Harvard Medical School. In 1977, he founded and directed the first department of cell biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was also the inaugural director of the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. From 1996 to 2000, he was president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the Yale faculty in 2001.

Pollard is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Biophysical Society, and the Institute of Medicine. His research has been honored with both the E.B. Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology (2004) and the Gairdner International Award in Biomedical Sciences (2006) for “discovering the molecular basis of cellular motility and the mechanism of its regulation” — information critical to the understanding of embryonic development, the spread of malignant tumors, and how humans defend against infections. In addition, he served as president of the American Society for Cell Biology and the Biophysical Society. The textbook for which he is the lead author, Cell Biology, is a standard in the field.

Jonathan Z. Smith

Smith is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Since the 1960s, he has been one of the world’s most influential historians of religions.

Beginning with his doctoral dissertation on James G. Frazer's classic work on myth and ritual, The Golden Bough, Smith has raised fundamental questions about the nature of religion and the challenge inherent in attempting comparative studies across different cultures.

In 2013, when he was named to an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the International Association for the History of Religions, the citation read, in part: “Smith’s enormous contributions to the field from the 1960s to the present have unwaveringly insisted upon, and been exemplary of, methodological rigor and selfconsciousness. He has probably done more than any single scholar to promote an analytic or critical approach to the study of religion.”

Smith’s academic interests have explored many historical periods, languages, and cultures, from the theory of ritual to Hellenistic religions, from Māori cults in the 19th century to the mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. His argument that scholarship is always an act of choice, selection, and focus rather than an exercise in interpreting timeless meanings of texts or symbols has situated Smith's work at the heart of the field's recent turn toward theory. His books include Map is Not Territory: Essays in the History of Religions (1978), Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity (1990), and Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion (2004).

Smith has been accorded honorary doctorates, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Religions, and teaching awards. He was president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2008, and that same year his colleagues produced a Festschrift in his honor. Smith joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1968 and has remained there his entire career. From 1973 to 1982 he assumed administrative responsibilities and served as associate dean and then dean of the college.

The Wilbur Cross Medal Selection Committee was chaired by Anthony Sabatelli (PhD 1984, Chemistry). Other alumni members were Susan Ball (PhD 1978, History of Art); Bernt Hagtvet (PhD 1974, Political Science), Andrew Richter (PhD 1979, Sociology), Elizabeth Sullivan (BA 1974, MA 1976, Soviet and Eastern European Studies), and Elie K. Track (PhD 1988, Physics). Representing the Graduate School: Dean Lynn Cooley, the C.N.H. Long Professor of Genetics, professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Cellular & Development Biology; Jacqueline Goldsby, professor of English, African American Studies, and American Studies; Alan Gerber, the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Political Science, ISPS, School of Public Health, and Economics; Daniel DiMaio, director, Division of the Biological Sciences and the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Genetics, deputy director of the Yale Cancer Center; and Jonathan Ellman, director of the Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering and professor of Chemistry.