Gift Establishes KITP Endowed Chair
By Jacquelyn Savani
UCSB has received a $1 million gift from alumnus John Gurley and his wife, Meg, to establish an endowed chair in theoretical biology in the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). The Susan F. Gurley Chair, which is named in memory of Gurley’s mother, has been awarded to Boris Shraiman, a permanent member of the institute.
“The Susan F. Gurley Chair is a powerful incentive that enables us to draw to the KITP leading scientific talent at the interface between physics and biology,” said UCSB Nobel Laureate David Gross, director of the renowned institute. “Boris Shraiman is just such a scientist. He is immensely creative — one of the deepest thinking and most theoretically skilled of the leaders in this dynamic new field. His appointment sets a high standard for those who will hold this chair in years to come.”
Both Gross and Chancellor Henry T. Yang expressed their sincere gratitude to the Gurleys for their extraordinary commitment to the future of scientific excellence at UCSB. “The Susan F. Gurley Chair will strengthen our tradition of excellence and will advance our research leadership in the field of theoretical biology,” Yang said. “This special endowment enhances the stature of our campus and will help us to continue to attract and retain top faculty and advance the frontiers of this important field.”
Shraiman joined the UCSB faculty in 2004. He holds a doctorate in physics from Harvard University and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. With broad research interests in theoretical physics and biology, he has made significant contributions in a number of fields ranging from correlated electron systems to pattern formation and turbulence. His current research uses physics ideas and approaches to study biological systems.
“This chair is not for me, but for the KITP,” said Shraiman. “It is a real honor to be given the opportunity to interpret what the interface between theoretical physics and biology might be. I am not unaware of the great responsibility signified by the creation of this chair. KITP programming can appreciably affect the way the interface between theoretical physics and biology evolves.”
John Gurley, a successful entrepreneur, earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in scientific instrumentation at UCSB. In 1987, with former UCSB Physics Professor Virgil Elings, he co-founded Digital Instruments, the first company to make the power of atomic scanning probe microscopy readily available to scientists and engineers.
At the KITP, Gurley is a member of the Directors Council. His generous gifts have included support for a lecture series in neuroscience and a Distinguished Fellows Program to attract renowned scientists in biophysics to the institute.
For his pivotal role in helping to establish the new field of theoretical biology, Gurley was named a Senior Fellow of the KITP.