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Ken A. Dill, distinguished professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy and the Louis and Beatrice Laufer Endowed Chair of Physical and Quantitative Biology, has been awarded the American Physical Society’s 2019 Max Delbrück Prize in Biological Physics. Dr. Dill was awarded for independent contributions to a new view of protein folding, from the introduction and exploration of simple models, to detailed confrontations between theory and experiment.

Ken Dill
Ken A. Dill

“Ken is master at explaining how the laws of physics describe biological systems, most recently applied to the the living cell,” says Nicole S. Sampson, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of Chemistry. “I’m delighted he is receiving this recognition. I can think of no one more deserving of The Max Delbrück Prize than Ken.”

The Max Delbrück Prize, originally called the Biological Physics Prize, was established in 1981 by friends of the APS Division of Biological Physics, to recognize outstanding achievement in biological physics research. This prize represents the highest recognition of the many and varied contributions to physics by members of the physics community and span all career stages.

“Ken Dill was awarded the Max Delbrück Prize of the American Physical Society for his major contributions to protein physics,” says Axel Drees, professor and chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy. “He is best-known for his work on protein folding, which refers to how protein molecules adopt the three dimensional shapes required for their biological functions in cells. I’m extremely pleased he’s received this prestigious recognition for his work.”

An author of nearly 320 publications regarding his work, Dr. Dill has received several awards throughout his career, including the Biophysical Society’s Emily Gray Award and the Protein Society’s Hans Neurath Award. He is a former president of the Biophysical Society, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Dill’s research interests include computational modeling of proteins, understanding cell behaviors in terms of the physical chemistry of the proteome, and Maximum Caliber: a principle of nonequilibrium statistical physics.

“I am deeply honored,” says Dr. Dill. “This award is really in recognition of the work of many outstanding students, postdocs and colleagues.  It is a wonderful reflection on the field of protein physics and on the great strength of the Stony Brook Physics Department, of which I have been delighted to be a part.”

Dr. Dill received his SB and SM in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and his PhD in the Biology Department at the University of California at San Diego. Before coming to Stony Brook, he did postdoctoral research at Stanford University, and was on the faculty at the University of California at San Francisco.

“Recognizing exceptional contributions in physics is one of the wonderful roles of our American Physical society,” said APS Roger Falcone. “We share in the joy of the recipients, take the opportunity afforded by the award of a prize to understand a bit more about that science, and reaffirm our commitment to excellence and peer evaluation of scientific research.”

Dr. Dill will be recognized at the March 2019 APS meeting in Boston.

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