Royden, Seager Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

MIT News
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

EAPS congratulates Professor of Geology and Geophysics Leigh Royden and Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Sciences Sara Seager on their election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Eight MIT faculty members are among 213 leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the academy announced today.

One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary 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.

Those elected from MIT this year are:

Alexei Borodin, professor of mathematics;

Gang Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering;

Larry D. Guth; professor of mathematics;

Parag A. Pathak, professor of economics;

Nancy L. Rose, professor of economics and head of the Department of Economics;

Leigh H. Royden, professor of earth, atmostpheric, and planetary sciences;

Sara Seager, the Class of 1941 Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences with a joint appointment in the Department of Physics; and

Feng Zhang, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience within the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering.

“This class of 2018 is a testament to the academy’s ability to both uphold our 238-year commitment to honor exceptional individuals and to recognize new expertise,” said Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the board of the American Academy.

“Membership in the academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility,” added 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 commitment of the 2018 class will enrich the work of the academy and the world in which we live.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Since its founding in 1780, the academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Maria Mitchell and Daniel Webster in the 19th century, and Toni Morrison and Albert Einstein in the 20th century. The current membership includes more than 200 Nobel laureates and 100 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Also on the list, which this year includes notable public figures Barack H. Obama, and Sonia M. Sotomayor, alumna and Former MIT professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton '87, SM '87, PhD '02.

Leigh (Wiki) Royden works in the area of regional geology and geophysics, and the mechanics of large-scale continental deformation contributing to the study of geologic processes through quantitative geophysical modeling. Currently serving as the director of MIT's Experimental Study Group, Royden has been on the faculty at MIT since 1988.

Sara Seager has pioneered many research areas of characterizing exoplanets with concepts and methods that now form the foundation of the field of exoplanet atmospheres. Her present research focus is on the search for life by way of exoplanet atmospheric “biosignature” gases. Professor Seager works on space missions for exoplanets including as the PI of the CubeSat ASTERIA, a 6U CubeSat capable of high precision pointing, with the science goal of detecting small transiting exoplanets orbiting bright, sun-like stars. The prototype is intended to be the first of a planned fleet of nanosatellites, aimed to demonstrate the graduated growth of a constellation as a new paradigm for space science missions. In addition to being the PI of ASTERIA, Prof. Seager is the Deputy Science Director of the MIT-led NASA Explorer-class mission TESS; and is a lead of the Starshade Rendezvous Mission concept (a space-based direct imaging exoplanet discovery concept under technology development) to find a true Earth analog orbiting a Sun-like star.