Six exceptional UCLA professors and leaders — Physical Sciences Dean Miguel García-Garibay, School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin, Education Professor Pedro Noguera, Political Science Professor Lynn Vavreck, environmental champion Mary Nichols and Hammer Museum Director Ann Philbin — were elected April 23 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.
“I am delighted to congratulate each of this year’s UCLA inductees, who are all deserving of this wonderful honor,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “Election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a testament to the exceptional work of our scholars and leaders. The entire campus community can take pride in this news and their many accomplishments.”
A total of 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors who were elected to the Academy today. More about UCLA’s honorees:
Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has earned worldwide recognition in the fields of artificial molecular machines, organic photochemistry, solid-state organic chemistry and physical organic chemistry. He studies the interaction of light and molecules in crystals. Light can have enough energy to break and make bonds in molecules, and García-Garibay’s research team has shown that crystals offer an opportunity to control the outcome of these chemical reactions.
His research has applications for green chemistry — the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances — and it could lead to the production of specialty chemicals that would be very difficult to produce using traditional methods. Among his many honors, he was elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2019.
Jennifer Mnookin, dean of the UCLA School of Law and the Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Law, is a nationally renowned evidence law scholar. As dean, she has worked to build on UCLA Law’s reputation for excellence and access, and to support a collaborative and engaged environment among the school’s students, faculty and 18,000 alumni.
Initiatives she has spearheaded include the first alumnae leadership conference; new programs in human rights, criminal justice and immigration; and the expansion of clinical opportunities in areas ranging from veterans’ needs to documentary filmmaking. She is founder and faculty co-director of the Program on Understanding Law, Science & Evidence, better known as PULSE @ UCLA Law.
Mary Nichols is professor-in-residence at the UCLA School of Law and a member and former director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. She also serves as chair of the California Air Resources Board. Prior to joining UCLA, Nichols was the California Secretary for Resources (from 1979 to 2003), where she was responsible for activities related to the management, preservation and enhancement of the state’s natural resources, and for the oversight of the state’s scenic, cultural and recreational resources.
Nichols, a UCLA Law Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment board member, has been one of the nation’s most prominent environmental activists for more than four decades.
Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education, is the founder and director of the Center for the Transformation of Schools at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends locally, regionally and globally.
He is the author of 13 books, most recently, “The Crisis of Connection and the Pursuit of Our Common Humanity,” with co-authors Niobe Way, Carol Gilligan and Alisha Ali, and he has published more than 200 articles and monographs. Among his many honors, Noguera is an elected member of the National Academy of Education. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues in national news media outlets. His commentaries on educational issues have been published in media including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and HuffPost.
Ann Philbin has been director of the Hammer Museum since 1999. She has developed a strong and original institutional identity and built a national and international reputation for thematic contemporary exhibitions, scholarly historical exhibitions and contemporary artists’ projects. During her tenure, the Hammer has formed a Hammer Contemporary Collection, which now holds more than 2,000 works of art.
She has overseen substantial renovations to the museum’s building, including the completion of the 300-seat Billy Wilder Theater and museum café. Under Philbin’s direction, the museum instituted the internationally acclaimed Hammer Projects, a series of more than 100 contemporary exhibitions and installations featuring local, national and international emerging artists. Philbin also created a series of dynamic public programs that regularly feature many of the most influential authors, artists and creative thinkers of our time.
Lynn Vavreck is UCLA’s Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy, a contributing columnist to the Upshot at the New York Times, and a recipient of many awards and honors, including the Andrew F. Carnegie Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the author of five books, including “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America” and “The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election,” which has been described as the “definitive account” of that election.
Consultants in both political parties refer to her work on political messaging in “The Message Matters” as required reading for presidential candidates. “Identity Crisis” was awarded the 2019 Richard E. Neustadt Prize for the Best Book on Executive Politics by the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
Vavreck’s 2020 election project, Nationscape, is the largest study of presidential elections ever conducted in the United States. Interviewing more than 6,000 people a week, Nationscape will complete 500,000 interviews before next January’s inauguration.
“The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and courtrooms,” said David Oxtoby, president of the Academy. “With [the] election announcement, these new members are united by a place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the Academy’s work to advance the public good.”
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals. Previous fellows have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
It also is an independent policy research center that undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current academy members represent today’s innovative thinkers in many fields and professions, including more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.