UBC evolutionary biologist and MacArthur ‘genius’ grant recipient Sarah P Otto has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Otto is among 213 new members of the Academy, which include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.
“It’s an honour to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their election affords us an invaluable opportunity to bring their expertise and knowledge to bear on some of the most significant challenges of our day. We look forward to engaging these new members in the work of the Academy.”
Six other UBC Science researchers have been elected to the Academy, including mathematician Donald Ludwig, zoologists Michael Whitlock and Dolph Schluter, botanist Loren Rieseberg and physicists William Unruh and Carl Wieman.
Otto, a theoretical biologist, has focused on fundamental questions of population genetics and evolution, such as why some species reproduce sexually while others reproduce asexually, and why some species carry more than one copy of each gene. She has helped to make mathematical modelling a more accessible tool for fellow biologists, having co-authored a textbook on the power and rigour of quantitative analysis in biology.
A 2011 genius grant awardee from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Otto also holds a Canada Research Chair, is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and is a member of the US-based National Academy of Sciences.
In addition to Otto, physical and biological scientists in the new class include Jacqueline Hewitt, the astrophysicist who discovered Einstein rings, nuclear physicist Barbara Jacak; chemist Timothy Lodge; Jay Keasling, expert in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering; computer scientist Tom Mitchell; biophysicist Eva Nogales; mathematician Andrei Okounkov; and neuroscientist John Rubenstein, whose discovery of key regulatory genes contributes to the understanding of the cellular and molecular underpinning of diseases like autism and schizophrenia.
The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 8, 2016, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of America’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centres, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.