Israelachvili's research interests are in the general area of intermolecular and intersurface forces in complex fluid systems. He is involved in the new California NanoSystems Institute, a research partnership between UCSB and UCLA.
His election brings to 23 the number of current UCSB faculty members who have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
The NAS made the announcement on April 20, naming 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 13 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Of his election to the NAS, Israelachvili said, "I am very honored. I wasn't expecting it. It's wonderful to be recognized like this by one's peers, especially out of the blue."
Said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, "We at UCSB are very excited and proud about this wonderful news. Being elected to the National Academy is a prized distinction, one that reflects the highest regard of one's peers in the scientific community. We congratulate our colleague Jacob Israelachvili and salute his scientific achievement."
Matthew Tirrell, dean of UCSB's College of Engineering, said of the news, "Election to NAS is a recognition of very distinctive and deep scientific accomplishment. I believe that this is recognition that Jacob Israelachvili richly deserves."
Israelachvili received his bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge, England, where he also earned his Ph.D. in 1972. He then carried out postgraduate work there at the Surface Physics Department of the Cavendish Laboratory. After a two-year research fellowship at the University of Stockholm's European Molecular Biology Organization he went to Australia from 1974 to 1986. At the Australian National University he led an experimental research laboratory devoted to measuring the forces between surfaces. In 1982 he was elected a member of the Australian Academy of Science.
In 1986, he joined the faculty of UCSB. In 1988, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and in 1991 he was awarded the Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 1996, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He is author of a textbook entitled "Intermolecular and Surface Forces."
In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society for developing experimental techniques for measuring interparticle forces in liquids that have led to the discovery and elucidation of new types of intermolecular and surface interactions in complex colloidal and biological systems.