‘Intellect, Creativity and Commitment’

Three scientists and scholars are elected to the 238th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professors Leon Balents, Craig J. Hawker and Edward E. Telles have been elected members of the 238th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Their selection brings to 37 the number of UCSB faculty members who have been named fellows of the academy.

The academy is an independent policy research center that conducts interdisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. 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 century, and Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 20th century. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

“We are very proud to congratulate Professors Balents, Hawker and Telles, our three newest members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "This election by their peers is a prestigious and meaningful career distinction, attesting to their leadership in advancing research, their devotion to teaching and inspiring others, and their commitment to making a significant contribution to our society.” 

Balents, who holds the Pat and Joe Yzurdiaga Chair in Theoretical Physics at UCSB is a permanent member of campus’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research focuses on the quantum physics of matter and its implications. His work explains unique phenomena such as magnetism and superconductivity, and guides the search for new materials and their applications to quantum technologies.  

Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), Dow Materials Institute and facility director of the Materials Research Lab at UCSB, Hawker holds the Alan and Ruth Heeger Chair in Interdisciplinary Science and is the Clarke Professor within CNSI. He is a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Hawker’s research activities focus on polymer chemistry, integrating cross-disciplinary studies with the development of materials with unique physical and mechanical properties. By employing readily available building blocks and bio-inspired designs, Hawker and his group engineer synthetic macromolecules with a level of structural control that is typically only associated with nature. This is leading to new opportunities in applications ranging from biomedical adhesives to advanced microelectronic devices. 

Telles is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UCSB. His current projects include the analysis of race and ethnicity based on several social surveys he collected across North and South America. He also is completing a book on ethnic and national identities among Mexican Americans. Telles recently convened a major conference at UCSB on immigration, trade and U.S.-Mexico relations featuring leading scholars and policy keynotes by UC President Janet Napolitano and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The 2018 class of the American Academy of Arts and Science includes President Barack Obama; Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor; Netflix, Inc. chief executive officer W. Reed Hastings; artist and scholar David C. Driskell; philosopher Robert Gooding-Williams; actor Tom Hanks; Buddhist scholar Matthew T. Kapstein; philanthropist and entrepreneur Laurene Powell Jobs; NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson; and pediatric neurologist Huda Y. Zoghbi.

“The intellect, creativity and commitment of the 2018 class will enrich the work of the academy and the world in which we live,” said Jonathan Fanton, president of the academy.

Added Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the academy’s board of directors, “The class of 2018 is a testament to the academy’s ability to both uphold our 238-year commitment to honor exceptional individuals and to recognize new expertise. John Adams, James Bowdoin and other founders did not imagine climatology, econometrics, gene regulation, nanostructures or Netflix. They did, however, have a vision that the academy would be dedicated to new knowledge — and these new members help us achieve that goal.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October at the academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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