A justice on Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, an administrator with NASA, a top atmospheric scientist also serving as president of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Nobel Prize winner in medicine are scheduled to receive honorary degrees at Winter Commencement 2014 on the Ann Arbor campus.
Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA administrator and a retired major general, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree and deliver the Winter Commencement address at 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at Crisler Center.
Also receiving honorary degrees are Susanne Baer, Doctor of Laws; Ralph J. Cicerone, Doctor of Science; and Dr. Hamilton O. Smith, Doctor of Science.
The degrees are pending approval by the Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday.
Baer, Federal Constitutional Court of Germany justice and professor of public law and gender studies at Humboldt University of Berlin, is a respected scholar, teacher and jurist. She chairs public law and gender studies at Humboldt and co-founded the university’s Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies.
Born in Saarbrucken, Germany, she studied law and political science at the Free University of Berlin before passing the bar exam in Berlin in 1991. She earned a master of laws degree in 1993 from U-M and has taught comparative constitutional law in Austria, Hungary and Canada.
Baer directs Humboldt’s Law and Society Institute and has served as vice president for academic and international affairs and as the law faculty’s dean of academic affairs. She works at the forefront of gender-equality scholarship and law against all forms of discrimination internationally, advancing feminist legal theory with her teaching and prodigious writing.
Publishing in English and German, she has proposed allowing women’s groups to file suit against degrading pornographic subordination of women and men, and she has championed sexual harassment protection in the workplace.
The German parliament elected Baer to a 12-year term on the Federal Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, in 2011. She is one of five women on the 16-member court and its first openly gay member. Baer maintains close ties to U-M and inspires students, faculty and fellow alumni in the United States and Europe.
Bolden, a retired major general in the U.S. Marines, is the 12th administrator of NASA and first African-American to serve in that role. He has excelled at the forefront of America’s space program for more than three decades. A veteran of four space flights, he commanded two missions, including the first U.S. space shuttle with a Russian cosmonaut as a crew member. He also piloted the space shuttle Discovery, which deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy and flew more than 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia in 1972-73. He earned a Master of Science degree in systems management at the University of Southern California and was a naval pilot before becoming an astronaut in 1980.
After serving in several roles at NASA, he returned to active duty with the Marine Corps, where he ultimately served as commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. He received the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other honors, and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bolden was appointed NASA administrator in 2009. Under his leadership, NASA has landed a Mars rover, launched a spacecraft to Jupiter, and enhanced Earth-observing satellites. In 2003, he was among those who supported U-M in the Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger affirmative action lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s foremost atmospheric scientists, has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion in the Earth’s stratosphere.
Cicerone was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965, and a Master of Science degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
A U-M researcher in electrical engineering from 1970-78, he and colleague Richard Stolarski identified chlorine’s impact on the Earth’s ozone layer in 1973. The finding was cited in the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina.
He served as a research chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and as a senior scientist and director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, before being appointed the Daniel G. Aldrich Professor at the University of California, Irvine. He founded the university’s Department of Earth System Science, served as dean of Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences and was chancellor from 1998-2005.
Cicerone led the 2001 NAS climate study confirming the role of human activities in global warming and was elected NAS president and chair of the National Research Council in 2005. He is a member of numerous professional societies and academies. Cicerone’s honors include the World Cultural Council Albert Einstein World Award in Science, and the United Nations Environment Program Ozone Award.
U-M established the Ralph J. Cicerone Distinguished University Professorship of Atmospheric Science in his honor in 2007.
Smith, distinguished professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute, adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize in medicine, has worked on the cutting-edge of modern biology for more than half a century. He and two colleagues received the Nobel Prize for discovering restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics, enabling researchers to pursue treatments for genetic illnesses.
Born in New York City, Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, and medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He began his research career as a postdoctoral fellow in U-M’s Department of Human Genetics, working with the late Professor Myron Levine. In 1965, they discovered the gene controlling prophage attachment.
Smith joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1967, where he discovered the first type II restriction enzyme and determined its cleavage site. In 1995, Smith collaborated with the Institute for Genomic Research team that demonstrated that random “shotgun” sequencing, using computational software to assemble short overlapping DNA fragments, could be applied to whole genomes.
Smith joined Celera Genomics Corp. in 1998, where he participated in sequencing of the fruit fly and human genomes. Now at the J. Craig Venter Institute, Smith works with his team of scientists to design, build and test synthetic bacterial genomes. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into U-M’s Medical Center Alumni Society Hall of Honor in 2006.