Steven S. Hsiao, an internationally renowned researcher whose innovative experiments on the brain could lead to the development of artificial limbs that can feel, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on June 16. He was 59.
Born in Washington, D.C., Hsiao obtained his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University. He briefly worked in private industry as a nuclear engineer, then served as a biomedical engineer at the National Institutes of Health before entering Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he obtained his PhD in biomedical engineering in 1990.
After two years as a research fellow in biomedical engineering and neuroscience, Hsiao joined the Hopkins faculty as an assistant professor of neuroscience. He was promoted to associate professor in 2000 and to full professor in 2007. He also held an endowed professorship at Tsinghua University in Beijing and served as co-director of Johns Hopkins’ neuroscience graduate program. Hsiao’s research concentrated on four aspects of tactile perception: spatial form, texture, vibration, and the mechanism and role of selective attention in processing physical sensation.
Allen Grossman, an award-winning poet who joined the university’s English Department in 1991 as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, died on June 27. He was 82. Grossman was the author of 11 books of poetry, most recently True-Love: Essays on Poetry and Valuing (2009), and he won numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship—the so-called genius grant—in 1989. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993 and, in 2009, received the Bollingen Prize, which is given by the Beinecke Library at Yale and is among the most prestigious honors for an American poet. Grossman was born in 1932 in Minneapolis. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University. He earned his PhD in 1960 from Brandeis University, where he taught from 1957 to 1991. He taught at Hopkins until his retirement in 2006. In his obituary, The New York Times called Grossman “a poet’s poet.”
Yantis joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1986 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. He received a BS in psychology from the University of Washington in 1978 and a PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Michigan in 1985. At Hopkins, he was a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and he also held appointments in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, and the Solomon Snyder Department of Neuroscience at the School of Medicine.
Yantis’ work focused on visual selective attention and cognitive control, specifically the neural mechanisms of attention and perception and the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging to supplement behavioral methods. He was recognized with the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences.
Michael Beer, a professor emeritus in the Department of Biophysics in the Krieger School, died August 22. He was 88. Beer was born in Hungary and raised in Canada. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1958 after serving as a professor of physics at the University of Michigan and a fellow of the National Research Council of Canada. He also taught at the University of Manchester.
A well-known specialist in molecular microscopy, Beer is recognized for his pioneering work on single-molecule electron microscopy, most notably for his proposal to determine the nucleotide sequence of DNA by direct visualization in the electron microscope, as well as for several additional advances in biological research.
Beer received many awards and honors during his career. He was the president of the American Electron Microscopy Society and the American Biophysical Society. At Hopkins, he served as chair of his department from 1974 to 1980. He was also the Krieger School’s associate dean for research from 1989 to 1992.