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9 Indian Americans Elected New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

9 Indian Americans Elected New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Founded in 1780, the Academy honors individuals for exceptional accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy, and research.

Earning prestigious academic distinction this year are 9 Indian Americans who have been elected as new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They are among 269 outstanding individuals who have been elected to the Academy in 2023. The new batch of members was announced by Academy President David W. Oxtoby and Chair of the Board of Directors Nancy C. Andrews late last month.

Founded in 1780, the Academy honors individuals for exceptional accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy, and research. The Academy also engages in multidisciplinary research by experts in various fields, addressing topics in the areas of the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, energy and environment, global affairs, and science and technology. The new members were selected in five “classes” or categories.

According to Forbes, “among the more recognizable names in this year’s class are financial journalist and author Michael Lewis; James B. Milliken, Chancellor of the University of Texas; actor Lawrence J. Fishburne, III; novelist Zadie Smith; University of Texas social psychologist James E. Pennebaker; actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda; Rice University President Reginald DesRoches; and poet and essayist Ilya Kaminsky.”

Indian Americans who were elected are Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, Harvard University (Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Statistics); Vidya Madhavan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Senthil Todadri, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Physics), Priyamvada Natarajan, Yale University (Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Earth Sciences); Ruma Banerjee, University of Michigan (Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology); Sankar Ghosh, Columbia University (Microbiology and Immunology); Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida (Religious Studies); Amitabh Chandra, Harvard Kennedy School (Public Affairs and Public Policy); and, Sudip Parikh, American Association for the Advancement of Science (Scientific, Cultural, and Nonprofit Leadership).

Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan is a Professor of Physics, de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, and Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He completed his undergraduate studies in physics at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. Mahadevan graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and then received an M.S. from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1995. After completing his doctoral studies, Mahadevan held postdoctoral positions at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara, before joining the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996. He moved to Harvard University in 2003. On his university web page, he describes his work and that of his group as centering around trying to understand the organization of matter in space and time, particularly in characterizing shape and flow at the everyday scale, and is thus closely tied in with experience and experiments.

Vidya Madhavan is a Professor of Physics at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She received her bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1991 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and a master of technology degree in solid state materials in 1993 from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. She obtained her phD from Boston University in 2000. She held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Berkeley from 1999 to 2002, before joining the physics faculty at Boston College in 2002. She joined the faculty at Illinois in 2014 as a full professor. Her research interests include investigating fundamental problems in quantum materials where interactions between the spin, charge, and structural degrees of freedom lead to emergent phenomena.

Senthil Todadri  is Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 1992, and his PhD from Yale University in 1997. He then moved to a postdoctoral position at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics in UC Santa Barbara before joining the physics faculty at MIT in 2001. His interests span a wide range of theoretical quantum condensed matter physics. His research seeks to develop a theoretical framework for describing the physics of novel quantum many particle systems by combining phenomenological modeling of experiments with abstract theoretical ideas and methods.

Priyamvada Natarajan is a Professor in the departments of astronomy and physics at Yale University. She is noted for her work in mapping dark matter and dark energy, particularly with her work in gravitational lensing, and in models describing the assembly and accretion histories of supermassive black holes. She authored the book “Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos.” Natarajan has undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics from M.I.T. She was also enrolled in the M.I.T. Program in Science, Technology & Society and the M.I.T. Program in Technology and Public Policy from 1991 to 1993. She did her graduate work in theoretical astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, England, receiving a Ph.D. degree in 1998.

Ruma Banerjee isVincent Massey Collegiate Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan Medical School. She is an experimentalist whose research has focused on unusual cofactors in enzymology. Since 2012, Banerjee has been an Associate Editor for Chemical Reviews and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She has authored two textbooks on the chemistry and biological effects of Vitamin B12 and on reduction / oxidation cascades in biological systems.

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Sankar Ghosh is an immunologist and molecular biologist who is currently the Silverstein and Hutt Family Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University. Ghosh is best known for his pioneering research on the activation of cellular responses via NF-ÎșB, a transcription factor that plays a critical role in regulating the expression of a large number of genes involved in the mammalian immune system. He completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of Calcutta. Ghosh received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1988. He then did his postdoctoral research training with Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore at the Whitehead Institute at MIT in Cambridge, MA. Ghosh previously received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from Calcutta University in India.

Vasudha Narayanan is a distinguished professor of religion and the director of the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions at the University of Florida. She is a scholar of Hinduism and studies the intersection of religion and culture in South Asia. Narayanan earned her undergraduate and graduate studies in religion at the University of Madras. She later earned her Ph.D. in religious studies from Harvard University. She has published numerous books and articles on Hinduism and the religious traditions of South Asia. Her work focuses on the diversity of religious practices and beliefs within Hinduism, as well as how religion intersects with politics, gender, and culture in South Asia.

Amitabh Chandra  is an Indian-American academic and healthcare economist who is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Chandra received his B.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Kentucky. Chandra is a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) Panel of Health Advisors, and is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). His research focuses on innovation and pricing in the biopharmaceutical industry, value in health care, medical malpractice, and racial disparities in healthcare. He is particularly interested in reducing the barriers to discovering new methods for the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of Alzheimers disease.

Sudip Parikh is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. Before that, he was senior vice president and managing director at DIA Global, a neutral, multidisciplinary organization bringing together regulators, industry, academia, patients, and other stakeholders interested in healthcare product development. The son of Indian immigrants who worked in the textile and furniture manufacturing plants of North Carolina, Parikh completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, first as a journalism major before switching into materials science.

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