William Press

Hertz Fellow: William Press

California Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Sub-Nuclear Physics

Fellowship Years

1969 - 1972

William Press holds the Warren J. and Viola M. Raymer Chair in Computer Sciences and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). At UT, his affiliations include membership in the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and in the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Press also is a senior fellow (emeritus) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 2009, President Obama named Press as a member of his President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). In 2011, he was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for a term beginning in February, 2012.

In his research career, Press has published more than 150 papers in areas of computational biology, theoretical astrophysics, cosmology, and computational algorithms. He is senior author of the Numerical Recipes textbooks on scientific computing, with more than 400,000 hardcover copies in print. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1994, he in 2000 became a founding member of NAS's new Computer and Information Sciences section. His current research is in bioinformatics and whole-genome genetics.

Press was for more than two decades professor of astronomy and of physics at Harvard University, during which he served as department chair and in various other positions of university service. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in three departments: physics, astronomy, and applied mathematics, as well as in interdisciplinary university programs.

From 1998 to 2004, Press was deputy laboratory director for science and technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Serving two successive laboratory directors, Press's responsibilities at various times included all aspects of managing an R&D organization with an annual budget of $2.0B, employing more than 12,000 people. Significant responsibilities included: relations with governmental sponsors and Congressional liaison; resource and indirect cost allocation; community and tribal relations; environment, safety, and health; and workforce issues, particularly those affecting the LANL's 4000 technical staff members.

Press serves as a trustee and executive committee member of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a long-time member of the JASON Study Group, and its past chair. Prior to coming to Harvard, Dr. Press was assistant professor of physics at Princeton University, and Richard Chace Tolman Research Fellow in Theoretical Physics at Caltech, where he received his PhD in physics in 1972. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard in 1969.