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Baruch College Professor David Gruber Wins International 2019 Lagrange Prize



Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Professor of Biology and Environmental Science is recognized for his pioneering and breakthrough research in complex systems science

 David Gruber PhD, Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, accepts the Legrange Prize with fellow awardee British biologist and ecologist
(l to r) David Gruber PhD, Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, accepts the Lagrange Prize with fellow awardee British biologist and ecologist Iain D. Couzin on October 17, 2019 in Italy.

Baruch College professor David Gruber, PhD, was awarded the Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize—the first and most important international award that recognizes excellence in the study of complex systems science. The award, which focuses on technological innovation and its influence in all areas of society, is the latest achievement in Dr. Gruber’s distinguished career in scientific exploration and marine biology.

Dr. Gruber, the Presidential Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, is a renowned marine biologist, an explorer for National Geographic, and research associate of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.

"It is a huge honor to be among the luminaries who have been awarded the Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize," said Professor Gruber, who accepted the prize in Turin, Italy on October 17. "I am grateful that this year’s Prize focuses on the extraordinary complexity of the animal world and to understanding of the mechanisms that govern life on planets, including our own."

Gruber added, "We are at a unique moment in human history where we have advanced technology, but we also find ourselves with the dilemma that this same technology is inducing a major extinction event.

“It is my hope that interdisciplinary and complex science aimed at better understanding animal behavior could be one of the major keys to unlocking a beautiful and symbiotic future for humanity and brightening our relationships to other lifeforms."

International Recognition for Pioneering Research

The Prize was awarded to Gruber for his breakthrough study of marine biofluorescence, as well as his interdisciplinary research of animal behavior that incorporates advanced machine learning, next-generation genomic sequencing, biochemistry and physiology. According to Gruber, these efforts are used to better understand the behavior and complexity of marine organisms, including sharks and whales, from their perspective.

Last year, Gruber earned international media attention for his development of a revolutionary soft robotic claw to study delicate marine life, such as jellyfish, in the deep sea. In his previous explorations of studying biofluorescent coral, Gruber’s research led to the startling discoveries such as the first bioflourescent sea turtle, more than 200 species of illuminating sea animals, and a novel family of fluorescent proteins from marine eels. Several of the compounds Gruber’s team have found are currently being deployed as tools to uncover new cancer drugs and to understand the human brain.

The Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize

Gruber accepted the Prize, along with fellow awardee British biologist and Ecologist Iain D. Couzin, director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Konstanz, Germany. He joins an illustrious list of awardees, which include renowned mathematicians, physicist, and computer scientists from around the world.

The Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize is named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange (b. Turin, 1736 – 1813) who was regarded by many of his contemporaries as the greatest living mathematician. Lagrange made major contributions to number theory and to analytic and celestial mechanics, including being one of the inventors of the calculus of variations.

The Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize was established by the CRT Foundation (Cassa di Risparmio di Torino) and is coordinated by the ISI Foundation (Institute for Scientific Interchange) of Turin.

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 (Story published on 11/7/19)

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