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May 2, 2008

Five Columbia Professors Elected as
American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellows

Five Columbia University professors whose expertise ranges from tropical agriculture to the social sciences were recently elected to the 2008 Class of Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The American Academy is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and independent policy research centers, announced the election of a new class of members.

The Columbia professors, along with other new members, will be inducted at a ceremony on October 11, 2008 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

Columbia’s newly elected American Academy fellows are: Peter Bearman, Cole Professor of Social Science; Richard A. Friesner, professor of Chemistry; Orhan Pamuk, professor of comparative literature; Paul G. Richards, Mellon Professor of Natural Sciences; and Pedro Sanchez, director of the Tropical Agriculture Program.

“These five distinguished faculty members illustrate the breadth of excellence across disciplines that exists at Columbia today,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “We are proud of the individual achievements of Peter Bearman, Richard Friesner, Orhan Pamuk, Paul Richards and Pedro Sanchez; collectively they represent a commitment to the arts and sciences that is essential to a great university.”

The five Columbia faculty count themselves among 212 scholars, scientists, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders who hail from 20 states and 15 countries. Represented among this year’s newly elected members are more than 50 universities and more than a dozen corporations, as well as museums, national laboratories and private research institutes, media outlets and foundations.

“The Academy honors excellence by electing to membership remarkable men and women who have made preeminent contributions to their fields, and to the world,” said Academy President Emilio Bizzi. “We are pleased to welcome into the Academy these new members to help advance our founders’ goal of ‘cherishing knowledge and shaping the future.’”

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy is an independent policy research center that undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Its diverse membership of scholars and practitioners from many disciplines and professions gives the Academy a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary, long-term policy research. Current studies focus on science, technology and global security; social policy and American institutions; the humanities and culture; and education.

More about Columbia’s 2008 American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellows:

Peter Bearman

Peter Bearman is the director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy and the Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences, the Cole Professor of Social Science, co-director of the Health & Society Scholars Program, and chair of the statistics department at Columbia University. A recipient of the prestigious NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2007, Bearman is currently investigating the social determinants of the autism epidemic. Current projects also include an ethnographic study of the funeral industry and, with support from the American Legacy Foundation, an investigation of the social and economic consequences of tobacco control policy. A specialist in network analysis, he co-designed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and has used the data extensively for research on topics including adolescent sexual networks, networks of disease transmission, and genetic influences on same-sex preference.

Richard A. Friesner

Richard A. Friesner is a chemistry professor at Columbia. Friesner is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and an NIH Research Career Development Award. Friesner focuses on computational modeling of complex systems in biology and materials sciences. Friesner’s specific interests include protein structure prediction, structure based drug design, modeling of enzyme reactions, and modeling of nanosystems (silicon nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes) with a particular focus on solar energy applications.

Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature and an acclaimed Turkish novelist and memoirist, is a Columbia University visiting professor with a joint faculty appointment in the writing division of the School of the Arts and the department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures. Pamuk is also a fellow with Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought and has previously served as a visiting scholar at Columbia from 1985 to 1988. His novels, exemplified by Snow and My Name is Red, merge Western literary influences as Kafka, Borges, and Eco with Islamic counterparts including popular Turkish folk traditions and the classical Persian poetry of the Shahnameh.

Paul G. Richards

Paul G. Richards, who has worked at Columbia since 1971, is the Mellon Professor of Natural Sciences in the department of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University. He is also a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Richards came from England in 1965 to attend graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he also earned his doctorate. The main focus of his research is how to use seismic signals from earthquakes and nuclear weapon test explosions to explore the internal structure of earth, to help quantify seismic hazard, and to demonstrate capabilities to monitor nuclear arms control treaties. He and another colleague discovered evidence in 1996 that the earth's inner core is rotating faster than the planet's surface. He co-teaches an undergraduate class on weapons of mass destruction.

Pedro Sanchez

Pedro A. Sanchez is senior research scholar, director of the Tropical Agriculture Program and the Millennium Villages Project at Columbia’s Earth Institute. Sanchez served as director general of the World Agroforestry Center headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya from 1991-2001. He is also professor emeritus of soil science and forestry at North Carolina State University, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America. He has received honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of Leuven, Guelph University and Ohio State University and was named a Luo elder in Kenya and a chief of the Ikaram in Nigeria. He became a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2004, and received the World Food Prize in 2002.