Six UCLA professors are among 220 distinguished scholars, scientists, authors, artists, and business and philanthropic leaders elected today to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments.
The new fellows and 17 foreign honorary members join one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies and independent policy research centers. Founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the academy has elected leaders from each generation.
Previous fellows have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
UCLA is tied with Yale University for eighth in the nation in the number of 2012 fellows and ranks second in the western U.S. behind only Stanford University; Harvard University ranks first in the country.
UCLA's new fellows are:
Professor of mathematics, director of UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics
An applied mathematician and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, Caflisch has applied sophisticated mathematics to complex problems in plasma physics and has conducted research on nanotechnology and computational finance, among other areas of study. He has worked on interdisciplinary projects with researchers from a number of UCLA departments and from industry. Caflisch has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Multiscale Modeling and Simulation.
Distinguished professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology and human genetics
Lake's research focuses on understanding molecular evolution at its earliest stage. His fundamental evolutionary discoveries, including the new animal phylogeny, for which he received the 2011 Darwin–Wallace Medal, combine a deep understanding of biology with transformative genomic analyses. He is breaking new ground rooting the tree of life, reconstructing the eukaryotic rings of life and providing genomic evidence for ancient prokaryotic endosymbioses (in which a cell lives within another cell).
Professor emeritus of mathematics
Liggett's areas of expertise include probability theory and infinite interacting random systems. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has been awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship and has served as editor of the journal Annals of Probability. Liggett joined UCLA's mathematics faculty in 1969 and is a former chair of the department.
Professor of English
The primary focus of North's teaching and scholarship has been the Anglophone literature of the last 100 years, with a particular concentration on race, politics and the visual arts. He has published seven books, including "Machine-Age Comedy," "Camera Works: Photography and the Twentieth-Century Word," "The Political Aesthetic of Yeats, Eliot and Pound" and "The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language and Twentieth-Century Literature." He has also published journal articles on modern art, literature and politics. North has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize and the Norman Foerster Award for the best article to appear in the journal American Literature.
Professor of computer science at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
A pioneer in artificial intelligence, Pearl developed the theoretical foundations for reasoning under uncertain conditions, as well as the graphical methods and symbolic calculus that enable machines to reason about actions and observations and to assess cause–effect relationships. He was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery's 2011 A.M. Turing Award, often considered computer science's equivalent of the Nobel Prize. His mathematical approach to causal inference has helped empirical researchers solve complex problems in many areas. Pearl's research serves as the foundation for Google searches, credit-card fraud detection systems and automated speech-recognition systems.
Professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics
Simpson's research focuses on the mechanism of a novel genetic phenomenon that occurs in the mitochondria of trypanosome parasites, the causal agents of a number of important tropical diseases, including African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. In these parasites, most of the mitochondrial genes are incomplete, and their RNA transcripts must be "edited" by insertion and deletion of U residues in order to be translated into proteins. Simpson's laboratory previously discovered that the information for editing is contained in small "guide RNAs," which correct the RNA sequences. He proposed a model for editing which has proven to be essentially correct. His recent work focused on the molecular structure and function of the editing machinery. Simpson is a foreign member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and was a full investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1992 to 2005.
One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is also an independent policy research center that undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems.
"Election to the academy is both an honor for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve," said academy president Leslie Berlowitz. "We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day."
The new class will be inducted at an Oct. 6 ceremony at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.