In 2018, eight MIT Professors were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, including Leigh (“Wiki”) Royden and Sara Seager of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).
One of the nation’s most prestigious honor societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications, as well as studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.
“Membership in the academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility,” noted Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy. “Members can be inspired and engaged by connecting with one another and through academy projects dedicated to the common good. The intellect, creativity, and com- mitment of the 2018 class will enrich the work of the academy and the world in which we live.”
Wiki Royden, a professor of geology and geophysics, works on both regional and continental mechanics, contributing to the study of geologic processes through quantitative geophysical modeling. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has received numerous awards, including the Donath Medal of the Geological Society of America, and the Mueller Medal of the European Union of Geosciences. Currently serving as the director of MIT’s Experimental Study Group, she has been on the faculty at MIT since 1984.
With secondary appointments in the Departments of Physics and Aero-Astro, Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Sciences Sara Seager has pioneered many research areas of characterizing exoplanets with concepts and methods that now help form the foundation of the field. Her present work focuses on the search for life by way of identifying exoplanet atmospheric “biosignature” gases. Her research also includes new space instrumentation and mission designs, including the ASTERIA (Arcsecond Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) CubeSat—named 2018 Mission of the Year by the SmallSat Conference for demonstrating that miniature satellites can perform high precision photometry—and as co-investigator on the MIT-led NASA TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission—which launched in 2017 and in the summer of 2018 sent back its first images as it began its all-sky survey to hunt for exoplanets around 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars.
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