9 campus faculty selected for membership in American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Nine UC Berkeley professors will join 234 other campus faculty in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, it was announced Wednesday.

The nine new members are part of a class of 213 scholars, scientists, artists and leaders selected this year for their contributions to their disciplines. The new members were chosen by current ones, who made nominations based on expertise and candidates’ potential future contributions to the organization, said academy spokesperson Dave Nuscher in an email.

In this way, the academy sustains itself by allowing current members to acknowledge further accomplishments in their fields as years go by, explained new member Eva Nogales, a senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and campus professor of molecular and cell biology.

“It’s telling you the top people in your field have decided you belong with them, it’s a feeling of approval, a tap on the shoulder that I’m doing things of value,” Nogales said. “It is really nice to feel appreciated and recognized.”

The other eight UC Berkeley faculty selected this year are history professor Andrew Barshay, integrative biology professor Robert Full, molecular and cell biology professor emeritus Robert Glaeser, biochemical engineering professor Jay Keasling, physics professor Barbara Jacak, economics and finance professor Ulrike Malmendier, political science professor Paul Pierson and electrical engineering and computer sciences professor Scott Shenker.

This year’s class also features 37 honorary members from 17 countries, including China, Cuba and South Africa.

Founded in 1780 by John Adams and James Bowdoin, among other leaders, the academy has, for years, united the nation and the world’s most accomplished leaders to collaborate in an effort to address social and intellectual problems.

Nogales explained that membership in the organization can facilitate meaningful connections within and among various fields.

“This society is unique in that it brings together people from many different disciplines,” she said.

Nogales was selected along with three other Berkeley Lab scientists, including Glaeser, who worked with Nogales on cryo-electron microscopy, a technology that uses an electron microscope to see protein molecules in atomic detail, Glaeser said. The technique advances on previous research, and its value has been recognized by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, Glaeser added.

Last year, six UC Berkeley faculty and UC President Janet Napolitano were selected for membership in the academy, joining a range of accomplished individuals, from Benjamin Franklin to Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Oct. 8

“I’m humbled,” Pierson said in an email. “It is a real honor. I’m happy to join the very long list of scholars who represent UC Berkeley in the Academy.”

Contact Lucas Lochner-Bravo at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @llochner_dc.