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16 faculty members, 18 alumni elected to nation’s historic academies

East Pyne Archway
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Last week, 16 University faculty members were elected to two of the nation’s historic learned societies: 12 were among the newest class of members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), and four were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Ten University alumni were elected to the AAAS as well.


The AAAS was established in 1780 by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Bowdoin, among others. Past University-affiliated members of the academy have included Toni Morrison, John von Neumann, and Albert Einstein. 

The new class of members totals at 276, and spans scholars of mathematical and physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts, and public affairs, business, and administration.

The University faculty members elected this year are represented in all but the last of those five categories. They are professors Rubén Gallo, M. Zahid Hasan, Amaney Jamal, Ruby Lee, Margaret Martonosi, Tom Muir, Alondra Nelson, Eve Ostriker, Alexander Smits, James Stone, Leeat Yariv, and Muhammad Qasim Zaman.

Rubén Gallo is a professor of Spanish and Portuguese and the co-author, along with 2010 Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, of “Conversación en Princeton” (2017). Gallo is also the author of other works, such as “New Tendencies in Mexican Art” (2004); “The Mexico City Reader” (2004); and “Mexican Modernity: the Avant-Garde and the Technological Revolution” (2005).

For Gallo, being elected to the academy served as a “reminder that the life of the mind continues and it is the one aspect of our lives that remains unaffected by the virus.”

M. Zahid Hasan is a professor of physics and an influential scientist in the field of condensed matter physics. Hasan’s research focuses on novel physical properties of quantum matter in such devices as superconductors, topological insulators, and quantum magnets. His research may have potential applications in quantum computation and next-generation electronics.


“My work has benefited from the supportive community of graduate and undergraduate students and scientists at Princeton and many collaborators and colleagues world-wide,” wrote Hasan, expressing a “deep honor” at having been recognized.

Amaney A. Jamal is a professor of politics and Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. Jamal studies the drivers of political behavior in the Arab world, migration of Muslims to Europe and the United States, and the effects of disparities and poverty in political outcomes.

“To be recognized by my colleagues in this way is an immensely gratifying and rewarding honor,” Jamal wrote to The Daily Princetonian.

Ruby B. Lee, a professor of electrical engineering, conducts research at the junction of cybersecurity, computer architecture, and deep learning. Lee’s research focuses on design of hardware architecture can considerably improve the security and performance of computing systems.

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“It was a real pleasure to hear the news of my election into the AAAS,” Lee wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “I have had exciting opportunities throughout my career to work at cutting-edge computer products and research, and feel very blessed that I have thoroughly enjoyed my work in both the computer industry and in academia here at Princeton.”

“My goal has always been to use computing technology to improve and enrich our lives, making it intrinsically more secure and trustworthy,” she added.

Margaret R. Martonosi, a professor of computer science, is a specialist in computer architecture and studies the interface of software and hardware. A major contributor to the development of the Wattch power modeling infrastructure, Martonosi’s research showed how power efficiency can be hugely important in the design of computer systems.

“The news from the American Academy was a great surprise. It’s both a deep honor and very gratifying,” wrote Martonosi to the ‘Prince.’ “And good news is particularly welcome right now as you can imagine.”

Tom Muir, Chair of the Department of Chemistry, conducts research to investigate “the physicochemical basis of protein function in complex systems of biomedical interest.” By integrating means from organic chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and cell biology, Muir’s research developed new technologies that are used to show how proteins function fundamentally.

“Needless to say, the news came as a wonderful surprise - most of the messages one receives in these uncertain times are hardly cause for celebration!” Muir wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Of course, election to the AAAS is a great honor for me personally, but more importantly recognizes the work of the many, many amazing students and postdocs I have had the privilege to work with throughout my career. A big tip of the hat to them.”

Alondra Nelson, a professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a visiting lecturer with the rank of professor in sociology at the University, is an influential scholar of the intersections between science and technology, race, and social inequalities. She is the author of such books as “The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome” (2016) and “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination” (2011).

Eve Ostriker, a professor of astrophysical sciences, is a theoretical and computational astrophysicist who studies phenomena like star formation and the evolution of spiral galaxies by using powerful supercomputers and algorithms to build models based on physical laws.

“By its nature, astrophysics is a highly collaborative field, and I am thrilled that the research I am engaged in with Princeton students, postdocs, and faculty has received this recognition,” she wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

Alexander J. Smits, a professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering, concentrates his research on turbulence and fluid mechanics, studying such topics as the behavior of turbulent flows at supersonic and hypersonic speeds, sports ball aerodynamics, and bio-inspired propulsion.

“I was very honored to be recognized by the Academy, and I look forward to being involved with its many activities,” Smits wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “One of the neat things about the election is to see who else is in your class. I can now claim to have only one degree of separation from Joan Baez, Ann Patchett, Eric Holder and Richard Linklater!”

James Stone, a faculty member at the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study and a professor emeritus of astrophysical sciences and applied and computational mathematics at the University, uses large-scale numerical simulations to study the gas dynamics of such systems as galaxy clusters and protostars. Stone’s research is instrumental in improving the understanding of the evolution and structure of the interstellar and intergalactic medium.

Stone expressed a sentiment similar to many of her colleagues, writing to the ‘Prince’ that the “happy news” was particularly welcome in this time of uncertainty.

Leeat Yariv, a professor of economics, specializes in experimental economics, studying such fields as political economy, game theory, and the intersection of psychology and economics.

“This is such an honor,“ Yariv wrote to the ‘Prince’. “And it is a salute to all those spectacular students, postdocs, and colleagues that share the adventure every day and make it all happen.”

Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies, has written extensively on such topics as the relation­ship between religious and political institutions in medieval and modern Islam, on social and legal thought in the modern Muslim world, and the exchange of thoughts between the Arab Middle East and South Asia.

Zaman and Nelson did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

In addition, four undergraduate alumni and six graduate alumni of the University were also elected to the academy, including Stephen P. Engelberg ’79, Kevin Gover ’78, Rachel E. Kranton GS ’88, Catherine L. Peichel GS ’98, Molly F. Przeworski ’94, Richmond Sarpong GS ’01, Robert Francis Siliciano ’74, Eva Silverstein GS ’96, Suzanne Walker GS ’92, and Mihalis Yannakakis GS ’79.

Established by Congress and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences is “charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology,” according to the academy’s website.

Past members of the academy who are affiliated with the University include Philip Warren Anderson, Eric Lander ’78, and John Bardeen GS ’36.

Four faculty members joined the 120 new members and 26 new international members of the academy’s 2020 new class, including Professors Anne Case GS ’83 ’88, Jennifer Rexford ’91, Suzanne Staggs GS ’93, and Elke Weber.

Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs, is an economist specializing in health economics and has conducted extensive research on health in her lifetime. Along with her husband and fellow University economist Sir Angus Deaton, Case is a co-author of “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism,” from Princeton University Press.

Jennifer Rexford, Chair of the Department of Computer Science and a professor of engineering, is an expert in communication networks and has studied methods to improve and expand digital communications. She’s made major contributions to the Border Gateway Protocol, enabling communications across the many networks that form the internet.

Suzanne Staggs, a professor of physics, is an experimental physicist and cosmologist whose research concentrates on the measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). She is the principal investigator of the Advanced ACTPol project, the current generation of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope project, and a founding member of the Simons Observatory.

Elke Weber, a professor of energy and the environment and of psychology and public affairs, uses behavioral science and psychological theory to improve understanding of social problems and alleviate them. She is known for making connections between psychological theory and behavior change, using such principles to address challenges in environmental and economic policy.

“This election means a great deal,” Weber wrote to the ‘Prince’. “While my research and scientific contributions have been motivated by curiosity and the desire to put knowledge and scientific insights to work (to make our world a better place), it still feels good to know that my efforts are being valued by my peers.”

Case, Rexford, and Staggs did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

In addition to the four faculty members, ten alumni were also elected to the NAS, including Katherine Freese ’77, Mark S. Granovetter ’65, Christopher Jarzynski ’87, Gregory W. Moore ’82, Molly Przeworski ’94, Wilfried Schmid ’64, Erin M. Schuman GS ‘90, Robert Tycko ’80, Jeffrey Ullman GS ’66, and Suzanne Walker GS ’92.

Przeworski and Walker were elected to both the AAAS and the NAS in 2020.