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Evolutionary biologist inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences

RIVERSIDE, Calif. David Reznick, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside, was among 179 of the nation's most influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 1.

The academy is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious learned societies, and an independent research center that draws from its members' expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education.

"The induction ceremony was remarkable for the atmosphere of tradition, great, concise speeches by a select subset of recipients, and the collection of highly accomplished people from the humanities and sciences who were inducted as fellows, not to mention singer-songwriter Paul Simon's closing American Song," Reznick said. "I confess that I often wondered why I was there, but I was and some members of my family were there to share it with me. I suspect they saw it as an improbable fate for the boy they knew who collected salamanders."

The 231st class of the academy includes winners of Nobel, Pritzker, and Pulitzer prizes; the Turing Award; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; Kennedy Center Honors; and Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy awards. Foreign honorary members from Argentina, India, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom were also inducted.

Participants in the ceremony included: researcher and biologist Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology; author and literary critic Denis Donoghue of New York University; Rachel Hadas, poet and essayist at Rutgers University; Hollywood film producer Kathleen Kennedy; David Page, geneticist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Sir Adam Roberts, one of the foremost experts on international strategic affairs.

New members who attended the induction include, in the sciences: cancer researcher Clara Bloomfield, who proved that adult acute leukemia can be cured; Julio Frenk, former minister of health for Mexico; and Nobel laureate and chemist Ei-Ichi Negishi.

"Induction recognizes extraordinary individual achievement and marks a commitment on the part of new members to provide fundamental, non-partisan knowledge for addressing today's complex challenges," said American Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz.

At UC Riverside, Reznick studies evolution as a contemporary process and performs experiments on natural populations of organisms. He also studies how complex traits evolve in organisms. In addition, his lab studies the evolution of animal life cycles and conducts experiments for testing predictions from different facets of modern evolutionary theory in natural populations of guppies (small fresh-water fish). Currently, the lab is engaged in experimental studies of the interaction between ecological and evolutionary processes.

In 2003, he was a recipient of the prestigious E. O. Wilson Prize from the American Society of Naturalists, which honors an active investigator who has made significant contributions to the knowledge of a particular ecosystem or group of organisms.

He is the author of "The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species" (Princeton University Press, 2009), which makes Darwin's "Origin of Species" more accessible by explaining its historical context, and converting it into more modern terms.

Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy has elected leading "thinkers and doers" from each generation. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates, some 100 Pulitzer Prize winners, and many of the world's most celebrated artists and performers.


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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