Three Yale professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

Three Yale scientists — two chemists and a psychologist — have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the scholarly society announced April 29.

Psychologist Marcia K. Johnson and chemists Mark A. Johnson and Alanna Schepartz are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries. Election to the NAS recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

“We are deeply proud that three of Yale’s leading scientists have been recognized by the academy for their contributions to human understanding,” said Steven Girvin, Yale’s deputy provost for science & technology. “Membership is an exceptional honor for a scientist, not least because members are elected by their peers.”

Including new members, the total number of active NAS members is 2,214, plus 444 foreign associates, who are nonvoting members with citizenship outside the U.S.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit society of scholars. Established by Congress, NAS provides independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.

Descriptions of the research by the newly elected Yale faculty members follow.

Marcia K. Johnson, Sterling Professor of Psychology, studies human memory, including the component processes of reflection and consciousness, mechanisms of veridical and distorted memory, memory disorders, and the relation between emotion and cognition.

Mark A. Johnson, the Arthur T. Kemp Professor of Chemistry, has sought to expand the role of contemporary physical chemistry, addressing mechanisms of complex synthetic pathways at the molecular level. His lab developed a highly sensitive instrument for measuring the structures of fragile chemical assemblies. It was first used to reveal how water molecules act together to accommodate and transport electric charge. 

Alanna Schepartz, the Milton Harris ‘29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, develops chemical tools for studying and manipulating protein–protein and protein–DNA interactions inside the cell. Her lab focuses on the design of molecules that nature does not make — miniature proteins, ß-peptide foldamers, polyproline hairpins, and proto-fluorescent ligands, for example — and uses them to address difficult biological questions.