William Engels, professor emeritus of genetics, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the academy is considered one of the greatest marks of distinction a scientist can achieve. New members are elected by their peers on the basis of their contributions to original research.
Engels came to UW–Madison in 1969 as an undergraduate student and has been here ever since. In 1973, he joined the Department of Genetics as a graduate student, earning his doctorate in 1978.
Engels is an expert in the mobile genetic elements of fruit flies, a powerhouse model organism for deciphering the mechanisms of inheritance. In 1979, Engels demonstrated that these so-called P elements were responsible for abnormalities in crosses between flies. Engels’ research into P elements identified mechanisms behind DNA repair in cells. These P elements have since become a widely used mechanism for genetic engineering in flies.
In 2008, Engels received a Kellett Mid-Career Award to fund his research. He retired in 2018.
Engels will be formally inducted into the academy at a ceremony next year.
For more information, read the UW–Madison news release.