The newly elected class of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences includes five UChicago faculty members and seven additional University alumni, including University Trustee Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65.
One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the American Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, global security and international affairs, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.
Members of the 2015 class include recipients of the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.
“We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution.”
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, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
The full list of the new members is available at https://www.amacad.org/content/members/members.aspx.
The UChicago faculty members and alumni elected to the academy are:
László Babai, the George and Elizabeth Yovovich Professor in Computer Science and Mathematics, specializes in complexity theory, algorithms, combinatorics, asymptotic group theory, and the many interactions among these fields, including problems of pure mathematics motivated by questions in the theory of computing. His honors include the international Gödel Prize (1993) in theoretical computer science for developing the concept of interactive proofs, which helped reshape the landscape of the theory of algorithms. In 1994 he was a plenary speaker at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians, a coveted honor in the field. In an indication of potential applications of his foundational work to emerging technologies, so-called “Babai points” in n-dimensional grids have been widely cited in the area of mobile communications. Babai is one of the founders of the highly acclaimed study-abroad program “Budapest Semesters in Mathematics” (1985). In 2005 Babai launched the prominent open-access journal Theory of Computing. In the same year he received the University’s Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.