24 NYU professors named world’s most cited researchers

Researchers across the university were recognized for authoring papers that were in the top 1% of their fields when ranked by number of citations. 

Natalie Thomas, Contributing Writer

Twenty-four NYU professors were recognized for making significant impacts in their academic subjects on Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers 2021 list. The ranking catalogues the authors of the most highly cited academic papers in the top 1% of their respective fields.

The professors are among 6,602 researchers from over 70 countries in the 21 fields classified by Essential Science Indicators, a database analyzing the influence of individual researchers. To construct the classification, Clarivate considered papers from January 2010 to December 2020 based on data from Web of Science, a popular Clarivate-operated database that measures how many times a piece of research is cited by other researchers.

Faculty from across NYU were recognized in the ranking, including professors at the Grossman School of Medicine, the School of Global Public Health, the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, the Tandon School of Engineering and the College of Arts & Science. NYU’s biology department featured the most faculty, with four of its professors making the list — Richard Bonneau, Gloria Coruzzi, Neville Sanjana and Rahul Satija. 

Gloria Corruzzi is a professor at the Center for Genomics and System Biology. (©Moree: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau)

“This speaks to the strength and growth of the NYU biology department, especially in the area of Genomics & Systems Biology,” said Coruzzi, who runs a lab researching systems for maximizing agricultural production and increasing crop resiliency. Coruzzi was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019 for her contributions to plant systems biology.

Jeremy Tinker, a physics professor and member of the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics at CAS, said it was an honor to be recognized for his research, which typically focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies.

“If you just look at the other names that are there, I feel extremely humbled and unworthy to be with some of the names on my list,” Tinker said. “My Ph.D. advisor is on that list, and to be on any list with my advisor is extremely humbling, as well as other researchers that I’ve worked with.”

Tinker is engaged in two types of research — large-scale collaborative projects and independent projects with students. He emphasized the importance of collaboration, saying that bigger projects, which can have more than 100 authors, generally produce highly cited results. 

Adriana Heguy is the director of the Genome Technology Center as well as an associate dean and professor at NYU Langone Health. (Image courtesy of Adriana Heguy)

Adriana Heguy, the director of NYU Langone Health’s Genome Technology Center and associate dean of the Division of Advanced Research Technologies, also believes her large collaborative projects earned her a spot on the list.

“I think what I would like people to get, as a sort of message from being highly cited, is that being highly collaborative works in your favor, and it advances science more than working in isolation,” Heguy said. “The model of working in science should change to be more collaborative — and I think it is changing.”

Rahul Satija is an associate professor for biology at NYU and a core member at the New York Genome Center. (Image courtesy of Rahul Satija)

Satija, a biology professor, says that the majority of his highly cited papers were developed in the Satija Lab at NYU, which consists of 18 scientists, all of whom contributed to his recognized work.

“I am proud that the papers of mine that are most highly cited originate from my lab here at NYU, and were led by my graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and academic trainees,” Satija said. “This recognition demonstrates the impact that their work is having in the broader community.”

Some professors named on the list acknowledged the biases that come with citation data, saying that citations are not a direct measure of research quality. Tinker said that, for example, papers authored by well-known names are likely to get more citations, regardless of their quality. 

“I think there are people who do very important research, and they’re not very highly cited because the research is in some area that is not hot right now,” Heguy said. “So sometimes things become hot and don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the science.”

Dr. Gyorgy Buzsaki is the Biggs Professor of Neuroscience at NYU Langone’s Grossman School of Medicine. (Image courtesy of Gyorgy Buzsaki)

It is not the first year that many of these professors have been on the list — in 2020, 26 faculty were named, and in 2019, 23 faculty made the list. Gyorgy Buzsaki, Biggs Professor of Neuroscience at the medical school, has been recognized for longer than he can remember.

“The important thing is not to be on the list, it’s staying on the list,” Buzsaki said. 

Previously unmentioned professors who also received recognition on the Highly Cited Researchers list include David B. Abrams, Viral V. Acharya, Francisco Xavier Castellanos, Marylene Cloitre, Orrin Devinsky, Edward A. Fisher, Jacqueline A. French, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Alec C. Kimmelman, Shane A. Liddelow, Dan R. Littman, Thomas Marzetta, Kathryn J. Moore, Raymond S. Niaura, Theodore S. Rappaport, Jeffrey S. Weber and Kwok-Kin Wong. 

Contact Natalie Thomas at [email protected]