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From arts to neurobiology versatile Duke scientist chosen for NSF Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation has given its highest honor for a young researcher to a man of many dimensions.

Erich Jarvis is a performing artist turned scientist. He overcame economic disadvantage as a child growing up in New York Citys Harlem to become a top young researcher at Duke University -- one of only 52 African American men out of more than 4,300 biologists who received Ph.Ds. in 1995. Despite his parents divorce and his fathers intermittent homelessness, Jarvis claimed from his parents and other family members their best qualities education, creativity, drive, sensitivity and compassion and turned it to his own advantage as he developed into one of the nations most promising young scientific minds. Today named to receive the National Science Foundations (NSF) Alan T. Waterman Award, NSFs highest honor for a young scientist or engineer, Jarvis was chosen for his individual achievements and leadership in studying the brain system of vocal learning birds.

Jarvis will receive the Waterman Award on May 7 in Washington, D.C. He is the 27th recipient of the award since it was created in 1975 by Congress to commemorate NSFs 25th anniversary. The award is named after NSFs first director. As part of the Waterman honor, Jarvis will receive a $500,000 grant to continue his research.

Erich Jarvis is truly a gem, said NSF Director Rita Colwell. He is the epitome of the modern scientist, crossing between disciplines and ideas, and blending his enormous sense of creativity learned at a very young age and applying it to get the very most from scientific experimentation.

Whether garnering cheers at his 1983 high school graduation dance performance (at the New York High School for the Performing Arts) for doing Soviet-style lifts in a War and Discord pas de deux, or engendering the more sedate affirmations from colleagues for his studies of vocal learning in songbirds, Jarvis has extraordinary curiosity on multiple levels, a
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Contact: Bill Noxon
wnoxon@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
29-Apr-2002


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