Two faculty members, two alumni elected to American Philosophical Society

The American Philosophical Society, the nation’s oldest learned society, has elected two UChicago professors and two alumni as members at its 2014 spring meeting. The new members are Robert Haselkorn, the Fanny L. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Chemistry; and W.J.T. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor in English, Art History and the College.

Also elected were alumni Michael McPherson, AB’67, PhD’74, president of the Spencer Foundation; and Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD’73, a faculty member at the Washington University School of Medicine, who will receive a doctor of science honorary degree from UChicago on June 15.

Robert Haselkorn, who joined the UChicago faculty in 1961, was elected to the class of biological sciences. He studies the molecular genetics of nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in cyanobacteria and purple bacteria, as well as the genes that encode the enzyme acetyl-CoA carboxylase in plants, parasites and humans.

Haselkorn is past president of the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Haselkorn’s numerous other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Gregor Mendel Medal in Biological Science from the Czech Republic’s Academy of Sciences, the Darbaker Prize of the Botanical Society of America and UChicago’s Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

W.J.T. Mitchell was elected to the class of the humanities. He is the editor of Critical Inquiry, a quarterly journal devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. Mitchell studies the history and theories of media, visual art, and literature, from the 18th century to the present. His work explores the relations of visual and verbal representations in culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). 

He is the author of Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present and What Do Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Images, which received the 2006 Laing Prize from the University of Chicago Press and the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association. He received the 1996 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from the College Art Association for Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation.

Among many other honors, Mitchell received UChicago’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring in 2003.