Ten African Americans Named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. It has a membership of more than 4,000 scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines including all the natural sciences. Its membership includes at least 200 Nobel Prize winners and more than 50 winners of a Pulitzer Prize. This year, 220 new fellows were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The academy does not release any information on the race or ethnicity of its membership. But through an analysis of the list of new fellows conducted by JBHE, it appears that 10 of the 220 new members are Black. Thus, African Americans make up 4.5 percent of the new members.

(L to R) Top row: Emery Neal Brown, Colin Dayan, Kenneth C. Frazier, Vincent Lamont Hutchings, and Jerry Pinkney. Bottom row: Griffin Platt Rodgers, Kara Walker, Anthony Welters, David Brian Wilkins, and Ernest J. Wilson III.

Here are brief biographies of the 10 new Black members. Six of the 10 have current affiliations with American universities.

Emery Neal Brown is professor of computational neuroscience and professor of health sciences and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Warren M Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School.

Professor Brown holds bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D., and medical degrees from Harvard University.

Colin Dayan is the Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. She has taught at Vanderbilt since 2004 and previously served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Her most recent book is The Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons (Princeton University Press).

Dr. Dayan is a summa cum laude graduate of Smith College. She earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the City University of New York.

Kenneth C. Frazier is chair, president, and CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Company. He joined the company in 1992. Frazier is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and Harvard Law School.

Vincent Lamont Hutchings is research professor at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Public Opinion and Democratic Accountability: How Citizens Learn About Politics (Princeton University Press).

Professor Hutchings has been on the faculty at the University of Michigan since 1997. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from UCLA.

Jerry Pinkney is an artist and illustrator based in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. A native of Philadelphia, Pinkney studied at the Philadelphia University of the Arts. He has been illustrating children’s books since 1964, with more than 100 titles to his credit.

Griffin Platt Rodgers is director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease for the National Institutes of Health. He has held this position since 2007.

Dr. Rodgers holds bachelor’s, master’s, and medical degrees from Brown University. He also earned an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Kara Walker is a professor of visual arts at Columbia University in New York City. A native of California, she moved to Georgia as a teenager when her father joined the art department faculty at Georgia State University.

Professor Walker holds a bachelor’s degree from the Atlanta College of Arts and a master of fine arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Anthony Welters is executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group. Previously, he has held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Amtrak, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Welters is a graduate of Manhattanville College and the New York University School of Law.

David Brian Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor of Law and director of the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. He is also vice dean for global initiatives on the legal profession.

Professor Wilkins joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1986. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

Ernest J. Wilson III is dean and holds the Walter Annenberg Chair in Communications at the University of Southern California. His most recent books are Governing Global Electronic Networks and Negotiating the Net: The Politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Harvard University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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