06/28/1995 07:00:00

Mel Simon Named Chair of Caltech's Division of Biology

PASADENA—On July 1 Mel Simon, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, will become the chair of Caltech's Division of Biology. He succeeds John Abelson, the George Beadle Professor of Biology, who is stepping down after six years as chair.

"I assume the chairmanship of this division at a most propitious time," Simon said, "when biology is on the verge of an era of growth and expansion. Current research breakthroughs have provided enormous amounts of data on the mechanisms that underlie the function of all living systems. At Caltech, working together with our colleagues in the other divisions, we are ideally positioned to apply these new insights and to generate a deeper understanding of the processes that control growth, development, evolution, and cell function as well as the operation of the nervous system and human behavior."

Simon earned his BS in chemistry at the City College of New York and his PhD in biochemistry at Brandeis University. He held a postdoctoral appointment at Princeton University and then joined the biology department at the University of California, San Diego, in 1965. He came to Caltech in 1982 as a full professor, and was named the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences in 1986.

Simon studies how organisms, ranging from microscopic bacteria to mammals, detect chemical changes and respond in an appropriate fashion. His work includes studies of the mechanisms involved in sensory cell function and the nature of the biological circuits that process information from a variety of cell surface receptors including those involved in the senses of smell, taste, and sight.

Simon is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. In 1991 he received the Waksman Award in Microbiology from the National Academy of Sciences.

Written by John Avery