Detlef Weigel has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Copyright: MPI for Developmental Biology /

Copyright: MPI for Developmental Biology /

Cambridge, MA | April 17, 2019 – Today the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the election of its new members for 2019. This year, more than 200 individuals with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs have been elected to the Academy.

“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, the president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

“With the election of these members, the Academy upholds the ideals of research and scholarship, creativity and imagination, intellectual exchange and civil discourse, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge in all its forms,” said Oxtoby.

The 2019 class includes poet and foundation president Elizabeth Alexander (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), chemical and biological engineer Kristi S. Anseth (University of Colorado Boulder), artist Mark Bradford, gender theorist Judith Butler (University of California, Berkeley), economist Xiaohong Chen (Yale University), academic leader and former Governor Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. (Purdue University), neurooncologist Robert B. Darnell (Rockefeller University), journalist James M. Fallows (The Atlantic), author Jonathan Franzen, cell biologist Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), data science and technology expert James Manyika (McKinsey & Company), former First Lady Michelle L. R. Obama, business leader Charles H. Robbins (Cisco Systems), mathematician Sylvia Serfaty (New York University), philosopher Tommie Shelby (Harvard University), actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and paleoclimatologist Lonnie G. Thompson (Ohio State University).

The 42 international honorary members from 23 countries include parasitologist Nadira D. Karunaweera (University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), public servant and author Kishore Mahbubani (University of Singapore), theologian and commentator Mona Siddiqui (University of Edinburgh), and historian Eusebio Leal Spengler (Office of the Historian of the City of Havana).

The 239th class of new members is available at

“While the work of this class includes work never imagined in 1780 – such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology, and superconductivity – these members embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous, and independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, the Chair of the Board of the American Academy.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and join the Academy members who came before them, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth, and more recently Antonin Scalia (2003), Michael Bloomberg (2007), John Lithgow (2010), Judy Woodruff (2012), and Bryan Stevenson (2014).

Outside of the sciences, the Academy represents a wide swath of business, arts and politics. Some notable current members are Daniel Barenboim, Judith Dench, Norman Foster, Bill Gates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Toni Morrison, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Martin Scorsese, Twyla Tharp, Denzel Washington and Barack Obama.

Learn more about the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at