Erich Jarvis Joins Packard Foundation Fellowships Advisory Panel

May 30, 2019 (Los Altos, CA) – The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has appointed Dr. Erich Jarvis of the Rockefeller University to the Advisory Panel of the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering. Dr. Jarvis is a former Packard Fellow (2000, Duke University), and joins the prestigious group of scientists and engineers who are responsible for selecting a class of Fellows each year from among a field of early-career scientists and engineers nominated by presidents of 50 universities.

“Through his research on song-learning birds, Erich has explored how we communicate with one another, how we pass knowledge through the generations, and how we build societies,” said Frances Arnold, Chair of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and former Packard Fellow. “He reminds us that brilliant scientists are integral parts of their communities, tackling tough questions that apply to our everyday lives. I’m looking forward to his unique perspective joining our panel.”

The Packard Fellowships are among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used. After receiving the Packard Fellowship, Dr. Jarvis went on to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award in 2002—the United States’ highest honor a scientist could receive at the time under the age of 35 years old. Dr. Jarvis is best known for his advances in the neurobiology of vocal learning, and is currently studying the neural and genetic mechanisms that allow songbirds to imitate novel sounds and produce complex vocalizations. He spent 18 years at Duke University before his current position at Rockefeller University, where his lab focuses on how changes at the molecular level can impact vocal learning. His research sheds light on how human language capacity evolved, and provides insights into human speech disorders.

“The Packard Fellowship was extremely valuable for my beginning years as an assistant professor, allowing me to take our research in new directions that would have not otherwise been possible,” said Dr. Jarvis. “I look forward to helping the next generation to do so and learn about bold new ideas.”

Earlier this year, after serving on the Advisory Panel for 14 years (2005-2018) and helping select 247 Packard Fellowships, world-renowned scientist and former Packard Fellow (1996, University of California, Berkeley) Jennifer Doudna decided to step down, leaving the vacancy Dr. Jarvis will fill. She will be honored at the annual Packard Fellows Meeting this fall in Monterey, CA.

“We have been grateful beneficiaries of Jennifer’s wisdom, experience, and devotion to our program,” said Arnold. “Through her ingenuity, success, and dedication to making our world a better place, she is an excellent example of what we hope for all our Fellows.”