William H. Press is a computer scientist and computational biologist with broad interests in the physical and biological sciences. An experienced manager in both university and national laboratory settings, he is widely recognized for his academic and research accomplishments.
Press is the Leslie Surginer Professor of Computer Sciences and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. His affiliations at the University of Texas include membership in the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and in the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Press is also a senior fellow (emeritus) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. From 2009 to 2017, Press was a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). He is a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is currently the elected treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the Governing Board of the National Research Council.
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. Press was an affiliate of the Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government and was for more than 10 years a resident faculty member in Pforzheimer House, an undergraduate residential House. From 1998 to 2004, he was deputy laboratory director for science and technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Press serves as a Trustee 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. He is a past co-chair of the commission on physical sciences, mathematics, and applications of the National Research Council (NRC) as well as a variety of other boards and committees.
At the time of his arrival at Harvard in 1976, Press was its youngest tenured professor. Earlier, he was assistant professor of physics at Princeton University and Richard Chace Tolman Research Fellow in Theoretical Physics at Caltech, where he received his Ph.D. in physics in 1972. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard in 1969.