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Robert Lisak

Robert Lisak

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Geneticist Arthur Horwich (left) has been awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Horwich, a Sterling Professor of Genetics at the School of Medicine, shares the $3 million prize with F. Ulrich Hartl of the Max Planck Institute. Horwich and Hartl are best known for their discovery of the mechanism of protein folding inside cells, work that has implications for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Four alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences were awarded the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal—for “outstanding work in scholarship, public service, teaching, or academic administration”—in October. The awardees are philosopher Ruth Garrett Millikan ’69PhD; immunologist Douglas R. Green ’77, ’81PhD; geologist and paleoecologist Susan M. Kidwell ’82PhD; and economist Urjit Ravindra Patel ’90PhD.


Brian Skinner, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Geology and Geophysics Emeritus, died on August 21. He was 90 years old. A native of Australia, Skinner taught at Yale from 1966 to 2015. His research focused on mineralogy and economic geology; he was one of the first scientists to examine lunar rock samples from the Apollo 11 mission. He lived in Jonathan Edwards College from 1977 to 1982, when his wife, geologist Catherine Skinner, was master.

Alexander Schenker ’53PhD, Professor Emeritus of Slavic Linguistics, died on August 21 in Branford, Connecticut. He was 94 years old. Schenker, who was born in Poland, joined the Yale faculty after earning his doctorate in 1953. He helped establish Yale’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Schenker retired in 1996.


Stepping down

Ben Polak will step down as provost of the university in January after seven years in the post, the university announced in October. Polak, the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, will return to teaching and research. President Peter Salovey ’86PhD said in a statement that he expects to name a successor later in the fall semester.


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