American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects 2012 Class of Members

New Members Include Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) Founder and President, Dr Kamaljit Singh Bawa

Dr Kamaljit Bawa, founder President of the Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment will join some of the worlds’ most influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors and leaders when he is inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on October 6, later this year.

His election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences admits Prof. Bawa to a 230 year-old institution of academic excellence and international prominence. He joins the ranks of such distinguished individuals as Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Benjamin Franklin. Other 2012 inductees include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, philanthropist Melinda F. Gates, and political scientist James Druckman. The current membership of the Academy includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

This announcement came on the day that Dr Bawa was receiving the Gunnerus Sustainability Award the world’s first major award for sustainability, awarded by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, for the impact his research has had on the sustainability of global biodiversity.

From the American Academy of Arts and Sciences press release

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Some of the world's most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Among those elected this year is Kamaljit Singh Bawa, Founder and President of the Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).

One of America’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.

“Election to the Academy is both an honor for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve,” said Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”

An alphabetical list of the 220 new members is located at: The new class listed by discipline is located at:

Members of the 2012 class include winners of the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award, the Pulitzer and the Shaw prizes, the Fields Medal; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; the Kennedy Center Honors; Grammy, Emmy, Academy, and Tony awards; the Avery Fisher Prize, and election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Among those elected to the Academy in public affairs and journalism are: sustainability expert Kamaljit Singh Bawa; former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Jr.; veteran diplomat R. Nicholas Burns; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; television journalist Judy Woodruff; and Boston Globe editor Martin Baron.

ATREE is a research institution in the areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development which focuses on applied science through research, education and action that influence policy and practice on conservation of nature, management of natural resources, and sustainable development. Its mission is to promote socially just environmental conservation and sustainable development by generating rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge that engages actively with academia, policy makers, practitioners, activists, students and wider public audiences. ATREE was recently (January 2012) ranked 19th in the University of Pennsylvania listing of the top think tanks in the world in the area of environment, and implicitly, the first in Asia.

Dr Bawa is a Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability, the first Gunnerus Sustainability Award. He has held Bullard, Cabot and Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowships at Harvard University at various times. He has also been named a Guggenheim Fellow as well as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment. The Society for Conservation Biology awarded him the Distinguished Service Award in 2009.

Dr Bawa is also founder President of ATREE, an institution established to bridge the gap between research and its application in the field of environment, and the social, economic and environmental impacts of its degradation.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 6, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Also see press release from American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

OTHER MEMBERS OF THE 2012 Class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Scientists among the newly elected Fellows include: James Fraser Stoddart, a chemist whose work helped establish the field of molecular nanotechnology; Angela M. Belcher, who uses directed evolution to create new materials and devices with applications in electronics, energy, and medicine; geological scientist Katharine V. Cashman, who helped explain why volcanos erupt the way they do; Gregory B. Olson, one of the founders of computational materials design; astronomer Debra A. Fischer, who helped discover more than 200 planetary systems; Robert P. Colwell, chief architect of Intel’s Pentium microprocessors; Tyler Jacks, who exploits gene-targeting technology in mice to understand cancer in humans; oncologist Brian Druker, whose research dramatically improved survival rates for leukemia patients; mathematician Ngô Bao Châu, winner of the Fields Medal; synthetic biology pioneer Jef Boeke; psychologist Robert Seyfarth, whose field research with monkeys shed light on the evolutionary origins of language; and Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, whose research contributed to the first effective therapy for sickle cell anemia.

Social scientists include: economist Robert A. Moffitt, an authority on the incentives and disincentives inherent in the U.S. welfare system; Paul Mendes-Flohr, a leading scholar of modern Jewish thought and history; behavioral scientist Edward F. Diener, who pioneered methods of measuring well-being; legal scholar Shari S. Diamond, whose empirical research has influenced sentencing policy and jury selection in U.S. courts; public finance economist Amy Finkelstein, whose work has shown how the structure of government programs affects health care choices and outcomes; political scientist James Druckman, who developed influential theories of how citizens form political opinions; and George F. Bass, a pioneer in underwater archaeology.

In the humanities and the arts, new members include: Civil War scholar David. W. Blight; Vicki L. Ruiz, whose research helped establish the field of Chicano/Latino history; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon; poet Gerald Stern; sculptor Kiki Smith; American film icons Clint Eastwood and Mel Brooks; violinist Midori Goto; pianist, conductor, and composer Andre Previn; and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.

Business leaders in the 2012 class include: Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos; Merck and Company Chairman, President and CEO Kenneth Frazier; Walt Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger; civic and business leader Penny S. Pritzker; Loews Corporation President and CEO James S. Tisch; and philanthropist and retired Citigroup Chairman Sanford I. Weill.

The new class also includes the leaders of educational, cultural, and philanthropic organizations including: Jared L. Cohon (Carnegie Mellon University); Melinda F. Gates (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation); Steven S. Koblik (Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens); Reynold Levy (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts); Carolyn A. Martin (Amherst College); and Michael A. McRobbie (Indiana University).

The Academy elected 17 Foreign Honorary Members from Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, and theUnited Kingdom. They include: Helmut Schwarz, President of Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; Dutch stem cell researcher Johannes C. Clevers; French social anthropologist Philippe Descola; British playwright and director David Hare; South African artist William Kentridge; British recording artist Paul McCartney; Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho; British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon; Argentinian commentator and politician Rodolfo Hector Terragno; and Ismail Serageldin, director of Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexendrina.

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Photo credit: Sandesh Kadur