Environmental Factor, June 2007, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Former NIEHS Scientist Honored
By Eddy Ball
Charles (Chuck) H. Langley, Ph.D., left NIEHS nearly 20 years ago to pursue his research interests in population genetics and molecular evolution in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California - Davis. On April 30, the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) announced that Langley was one of 203 new fellows from throughout the world elected to the Academy this year.
In its announcement, the Academy noted that the class of 2007 included former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Conner, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, winners of Nobel and Academy Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, corporate CEOs and two former chairs of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Several artists also made the grade, including film maker Spike Lee and pianist Emmanuel Ax.
Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, AAAS has prided itself on electing the most prominent minds of the time to its membership. The membership has included such luminaries as George Washington, Daniel Webster, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. The organization currently counts more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners among its members.
Langley is a prolific researcher and a distinguished professor of genetics, evolution and ecology at Davis. He has garnered several additional honors since leaving the Institute, not the least of which was a Genetics Society of America (GSA) Medal in 1999. He was recognized by the GSA for his contributions to the understanding of genetic variation in natural populations.
In a January 2000 tribute to Langley on the occasion of his Genetics Society Award (Genetics 154:3-4), Jan Drake, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, reflected on his unassuming friend's significant scientific accomplishments, "impressive list of publications" and personal integrity. Langley was a principal investigator in what was then known as the Laboratory of Animal Genetics from 1973 to 1989.
Drake, who described himself as Langley's "colleague and nominal chief" at NIEHS, recalled his friend's leadership at a time when the genetics community at NIEHS was threatened by proposed organizational changes. "In this battle," Drake wrote, "Chuck once again played a key role, taking over the formal leadership of the community for several months until the drama played out." When the conflict was finally resolved - thanks in large part to Langley's efforts - the genetics community emerged stronger than ever and continues to play an important role in the NIEHS research mission.