The Rockefeller University awarded doctoral degrees to 17 students at its convocation ceremony yesterday. Additionally, two Nobel winning scientists and members of the Rockefeller faculty, Günter Blobel and Paul Greengard, received honorary degrees along with James H. Simons, a mathematician, investor and philanthropist, and his wife Marilyn Simons, president of the Simons Foundation.
Each doctoral candidate was presented for the degree by his or her mentor, a tradition dating back to the university’s first commencement ceremony in 1959.
Blobel, who has conducted research at The Rockefeller University since 1967, was the sole recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. His research has answered a fundamental question of biology: How does a cell manage to distribute its large repertoire of proteins to many distant cellular addresses?
Greengard’s studies have provided the framework for understanding how cells in the nervous system communicate with each other via neurotransmitters. A member of the Rockefeller University faculty since 1983, he shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries, which have shed light on the biological mechanisms that underlie movement, perception, thought, memory and emotion.
James Simons is chairman of the Simons Foundation, an organization dedicated to extending the frontiers of basic science, and founder and chairman of Renaissance Technologies, an investment management company that pioneered the use of quantitative analysis to make investment decisions. A mathematician, he served as chairman of the mathematics department of The State University of New York at Stony Brook and has taught mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Marilyn Simons, president of the Simons Foundation, works to advance research in the basic sciences and mathematics through a broad range of programs designed to promote a deeper understanding of our world. Under her guidance, the Simons Foundation has grown to become one of the country’s leading private funders of basic research. Through its online news division, Simons Science News, the foundation has also become and important voice for enhancing public understanding of science.
The graduating students are: Pinar Ayata, Nicole Bowles, Fabio Casadio, Emily Conn Gantman, Teresa Davoli, Paul Daniel Dossa, Amy Grunbeck, Ryan W. King, Adam Michael Knepp, María Maldonado, Suchit H. Patel, Nirmala Ramalingam, Dennis Justin Spencer, Chan Lek Tan, Sarah Van Driesche, Amy Wells Quinkert and Laura Winzenread.