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Michelle Obama ’85, six faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

<p>Michelle Obama '85 is one of the six individuals affiliated with the University to be elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.</p>
<p>Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House</p>

Michelle Obama '85 is one of the six individuals affiliated with the University to be elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

The University announced last week that six faculty members and several alumni were elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. The faculty included Kathryn Edin, Brian Kernighan GS ’69, Sara McLanahan, Judith Weisenfeld GS ’92, Virginia Zakian, and visiting research scholar Candis Callison. Among University alumni were Michelle Obama ’85, Mitchell Daniels Jr. ’71, and Clare Yu ’79, GS ’84.

The 2019 members include more than 200 people, according to the Academy’s website. Since its founding in 1780, it has honored leaders across a variety of disciplines. Inductees have included names such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King, Jr.


The six University faculty members inducted this year come from a range of fields.

Callison is the Pathy Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Studies and serves in the Humanities Council as a visiting research scholar. She focuses on a wide range of topics such as journalism, the environment, and media.

Edin is a professor in the Department of Sociology and the Wilson School and co-director of the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (CRCW). She researches poverty and welfare.

“Our culture is to recognize individuals. But our accomplishments are due to the teams [we] collaborate with,” Edin wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “I would like to acknowledge my exceptional co-authors, staff, and students, to whom the honor belongs.”

McLanahan co-directs the CRCW with Edin and is the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs.

Judith Weisenfeld researches religious history in America and is the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion.


“I am deeply honored to have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and for the Academy’s members’ recognition of the significance of the field of African American religious history, which has been the focus of my teaching and research,” Weisenfeld wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ 

“It has been a privilege to have spent the past decade among the students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Religion and at the University, and my work has benefited enormously from the supportive intellectual community I have found here.”

Brian Kernighan, professor in the Department of Computer Science, researches topics such as technology education and software tools.

Virginia Zakian is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and the Harry C. Weiss Professor in the Life Sciences. She researches telomere and DNA replication and chromosome structure. 

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Announced as inductees on April 17, these distinguished individuals will be formally honored this October at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.

Callison, McLanahan, Kernighan, and Zakian did not respond to request for comment by the time of publication.