Eight Yale faculty members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

(Top row, left to right) O. Keith Baker, Karen C. Seto, Richard Gutierrez Bribiescas, Rohini Pande, (second row, left to right)
(Top row, left to right) O. Keith Baker, Karen C. Seto, Richard Gutierrez Bribiescas, Rohini Pande, (second row, left to right) Alison Richard, Justin Driver, Ruslan Medzhitov, and Eduardo A. Groisman

Eight Yale faculty members in fields as diverse as anthropology, geography, law, and medicine are among the 261 accomplished individuals elected new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).

The academy honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and advance the public good.

We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breath of areas,” said David Oxtoby, president of the AAAS. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise, and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”

The academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and other early leaders of America with the purpose of honoring exceptionally accomplished individuals and engaging them in the betterment of society.

The new members from Yale are:

O. Keith Baker, the D. Allan Bromley Professor of Physics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), whose research is in experimental particle physics. He is engaged in the Yale Microwave Cavity Experiment and is one of the physicists whose research made the discovery of the Higgs boson particle possible. He is also known for his work on dark matter. Baker, who began teaching at Yale in 2006, is the first tenured African American tenured faculty member in the Yale physics department.

Richard Gutierrez Bribiescas, professor of anthropology and of ecology and evolutionary biology in FAS, is the primary investigator in the Yale Reproductive Ecology Laboratory. His research is focused on evolutionary biology and endocrinology of human and comparative life histories, reproduction, aging, and metabolism. He has conducted field research among the Ache people of Paraguay, among other populations, and has also studied non-human primates. He is also the former vice provost for faculty development and diversity at Yale.

Justin Driver, the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law, teaches and writes in the area of constitutional law. He is the author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind,” which won the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law, and was a finalist for the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and Phi Beta Kappa’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Book Award. In 2021, President Joseph Biden appointed him to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Eduardo A. Groisman, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the School of Medicine, who studies the mechanisms that enable bacteria to cause disease and further human health. His lab investigates how pathogenic and commensal bacteria modify their gene expression patterns so they can survive and proliferate within host tissues and abiotic environments. Groisman and his team have focused on the mechanisms utilized by the gastroenteritis- and typhoid fever-causing Salmonella enterica, the bubonic plague agent Yersinia pestis, and the human gut commensal E. coli.

Ruslan Medzhitov, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at the School of Medicine and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, studies the biology of inflammation, including the physiological functions of inflammatory response, inflammation and metabolism, inflammation and aging, and inflammation and cancer. He is also known for his research on host-microbe interactions and the role of macrophages in the maintenance of homeostasis and in physiological inflammation.

Rohini Pande, the Henry J. Heinz Professor of Economics and director of the Economic Growth Center, focuses her research on how formal and informal institutions shape power and patterns of economic and political advantage in societies, particularly in developing nations. Her most recent work explores innovative ways to make the state more accountable to its citizens, such as by strengthening women’s economic and political opportunities or ensuring that environmental regulations reduce harmful emissions. She is the co-editor of American Economic Review: Insights.

Alison Richard, the Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor Emerita of the Human Environment and senior research scientist in the Department of Anthropology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is acclaimed for her work and writings on the evolution of complex social systems among primates. This research has taken her to Central America, Northern Pakistan and, in particular, to the forests of Madagascar. Richard has worked in Madagascar since 1970, when she spent 18 months studying the socioecology of sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi). She was chair of the Department of Anthropology from 1986 to 1990, and director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. From 1994 to 2002 she served as Yale’s provost. From 2003 to 2010, she was vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge, a position that carried the responsibilities of university president.

Karen C. Seto, the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science at the Yale School of the Environment, is interested in how urbanization will affect the planet. She integrates remote sensing, field interviews, and modeling methods to study urbanization and land change, forecast urban growth, and examine the environmental consequences of urban expansion. Her work has led to new insights on the interaction between urbanization and food systems, how urban expansion affects biodiversity and loss of cropland, urban energy use and emissions, and urban mitigation of climate change. She has served on numerous national and international scientific bodies.

The academy has elected more than 13,500 members since its founding. Among the distinguished individuals who have been honored with membership are Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Martin Luther King Jr. Margaret Mead, Anna Deavere Smith, Angela Davis, and Anthony Fauci. For a full list of members, visit the academy’s website.

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Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,