Five Columbians Receive Mayor's Science Awards

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented five Columbia faculty members with awards recognizing their breakthrough research in neurobiology, applied mathematics, biochemistry, and physics at the 2002 Mayor’s Science and Technology Awards ceremony. The event marked the second straight year that Columbia had more winners than any other institution in the city.

Biochemist Anna Marie Pyle (pictured left with Bloomberg) and neurobiologist Rafael Yuste won in the Young Investigator category, which honors outstanding researchers under the age of forty.

Pyle has made major contributions to the field of nucleic acid chemistry and our understanding of the structure and function of the various forms of DNA and RNA, in particular ribozymes, a catalytic form of RNA. Yuste's research has focused on understanding the function of the cerebral cortex, the primary site of mental functions such as perception, memory, control of voluntary movements, imagination, language, and music.

Physicist Brian Greene was honored for his impact on the public’s understanding of science with his acclaimed book, The Elegant Universe. The book has increased awareness and development of super-string theory, which has the potential of realizing Einstein’s dream of a single, all encompassing theory of the universe.

Professor Thomas Jessell, a renowned neurobiologist who studies the molecular mechanisms that control the early development of the vertebrate nervous system, won in the biological and medical sciences category. His work on the spinal cord has provided insight into many congenital birth defects and provides a foundation for future medical applications.

Professor Joel Cohen, whose work focuses on the social organization of human and non-human populations, was honored in the mathematical, physical, and engineering category for enhancing understanding of population growth, disease transmission and control, and the nature and progress of ecological systems.

Photo: Michael Dames