Eight UChicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Eight members of the University of Chicago faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. They include Profs. Zeresenay Alemseged, Benson Farb, Jeffrey Hubbell, Karin Knorr Cetina, Anup Malani, Angela Olinto, Eric Santner and Amie Wilkinson.

These scholars have made breakthroughs in fields ranging from human evolution and cancer immunotherapy to cosmic rays and geometric group theory. They join the 2021 class of more than 250 individuals, announced April 22, which includes artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Nine UChicago alumni were also elected as part of this year’s class, including former Trustee Paula Wolff, AB’69, PhD’72.

Zeresenay Alemseged

Zeresenay “Zeray” Alemseged is the Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. His research in human evolution focuses on the origins and evolution of early human ancestors and how they were shaped by underlying environmental and ecological factors—thus he also studies the fauna at the time our ancestors were evolving. His objective is to unearth and analyze evidence for shifts through time and space in their biology, behavior and ecology aiming at identifying milestone evolutionary events that ultimately led to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens.

While leading the Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia, Alemseged discovered and analyzed the fossilized remains of a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis—the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date. In addition, his team unearthed the earliest evidence for stone tool use in the human lineage dating back to 3.5 million years ago. These discoveries represent a major advancement in the understanding of how we became human and have changed the textbooks on human evolution.

Benson Farb

Benson Farb is a Professor of Mathematics. His work has spanned geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology, discrete subgroups of Lie groups, dynamics, and various interactions between topology, representation theory, algebraic geometry and number theory.

Farb was elected a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012, and spoke at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2014.

Jeffrey Hubbell

Jeffrey Hubbell is the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. Hubbell designs materials to assemble in such a way that they can stimulate the immune systems to fight infection or malignancy, or turn off some aspects of the immune system to address auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or celiac disease. Hubbell has coined the term “immuno-modulatory materials” to describe this newly emerging field of research.

Along with his associates, he holds more than 100 patents and has founded five companies based on his research. Hubbell has also been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, in addition to the National Academy of Inventors.

Karin Knorr Cetina

Karin Knorr Cetina is the Otto Borchert Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology and Anthropology.

Knorr Cetina’s wide-ranging scholarship includes work on science, knowledge and information, globalization, social theory and culture. She is one of the leaders of the new sociology and anthropology of science that seeks to understand the mechanisms of knowledge formation within science and how science and technology change modern societies. Over the last two decades, she has also studied the global currency market from a social and behavioral perspective, including the transformation of spatial human markets into media-based synthetic markets. She has used a micro-structural approach and the methodology of ‘laboratory studies’ to understand epistemic practices in science and the imagination and speculative financial actions of global institutional trading fields.

She is the author of multiple monographs and books, including “The Manufacture of Knowledge: An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science” (1991), Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge (1999) and a forthcoming book on synthetic markets. Knorr Cetina is also a principal investigator of the “Agentic Media” project at the University of Siegen, Germany, and a member of the Bielefeld Institute for Global Society Studies at the University of Bielefeld.

Anup Malani

Anup Malani is the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a Professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine. 

Malani conducts research in law and economics, health economics and development economics. His research in law and economics focuses on judicial behavior, methods for measuring the contents and causal impact of laws, and the legal implications of blockchain. His health economics research focuses on control of infectious diseases (including coronaviruses and influenza), the value of medical innovation and health care insurance, conflicts of interest in medicine and placebo effects. In development economics, Malani is involved in multiple projects in India focused on health care financing and the quality of life in slums.

Malani is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; a visiting fellow at the IDFC Institute in Mumbai, India; an editor at The Journal of Law and Economics; and the co-founder and faculty director of the International Innovation Corps. Following graduation from the University of Chicago Law School and while pursuing his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, Malani was a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Angela V. Olinto

Angela V. Olinto is the Dean of the Physical Sciences Division of the University of Chicago since 2018 and is the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Olinto is a leader of the new field of astroparticle physics. Her best-known contributions include the study of compact stars made of quarks, primordial natural inflation, the origins and evolution of cosmic magnetic fields, and the origin of the highest energy cosmic rays, gamma-rays, and neutrinos arriving on Earth from distant sources. She was a founding member of the Pierre Auger Observatory and currently leads the Probe Of Extreme Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (POEMMA) space mission and the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) on super pressure balloon missions, all designed to discover the origin of the highest energy particles to study their sources and their interactions.

She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a trustee of the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago, and a member of the Argonne National Laboratory Board of Governors, and has served on many advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She received the Chaire d’Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de Recherche in 2006, the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011, and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 2015 at the University of Chicago.

Eric L. Santner

Eric L. Santner is the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor in Germanic Studies, and a leading scholar who integrates literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory and religious thought in his work. He has also co-authored books and co-taught seminars with a wide range of experts, including philosophers, religious historians and anthropologists. His diverse scholarly pursuits are reflected in his forthcoming book, Untying Things Together: Philosophy, Literature, and a Life in Theory, which will be published by University of Chicago Press in Spring 2022. 

A member of the UChicago faculty since 1996, Santner’s earlier books include Sovereignty, Inc.: Three Inquiries in Politics and Enjoyment (2020), co-authored with William Mazzarella and Aaron Schuster, which explores a new kind of authoritarian charisma embodied by figures like Donald Trump; The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty (2011), which reconsiders how democratic societies “metabolize” the principle of sovereignty formerly located in the body of the king; and The Psychotheology of Everyday Life: Reflections on Freud and Rosezweig (2001), which imagines a conversation between Sigmund Freud and Franz Rosenzweig that allows us to reimagine the nature of ethical and political life.

Amie Wilkinson

Amie Wilkinson is a Professor of Mathematics. Her research lies in the area of smooth dynamical systems—the smooth motion of points in a space dictated by a fixed set of rules. Her studies focus on the interplay between dynamics and other structures in pure mathematics—geometric, statistical, topological and algebraic.

She was awarded the Satter Prize in Mathematics in 2011, and was elected a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2014. She gave an invited talk at the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010 in Hyderabad, India.

The UChicago alumni in this year’s class include Zhenan Bao, SM’93, PhD’95; Joan W. Bennett, SM’64, PhD’67; Mitchell Duneier, AM’85, PhD’92; Katherine E. Fleming, AM’89; Joseph Incandela, AB’81, SM’85, PhD’86; Luciano Marraffini, PhD’07; Jonas C. Peters, SB’93; Andrés Reséndez, AM’92, PhD’97; and Paula Wolff, AB’69, PhD’72.