Two UT Scientists Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

May 2, 2024 • by Staff Writer

Chemist Eric Anslyn and molecular bioscientist Howard Ochman are among the UT faculty joining the Academy.

A man with a beard and classes and a man in an informal shirt each smile in headshots.

Four faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin, including two in the College of Natural Sciences, will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest learned societies for independent policy research.

Founded in 1780, the academy honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world. The new members were elected in 31 areas of expertise and include 25 new international honorary members.

Chemistry professor Eric Anslyn and molecular biosciences professor Howard Ochman, along with fine arts professor and Dean Ramón H. Rivera-Servera and government professor Christopher Wlezien, were named among this year’s prestigious cohort of 250 individuals in a wide range of disciplines and professions. The new class will be inducted at a ceremony during September in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at which the newly elected members will sign the Book of Members, and their signatures will be added to the academy members who came before them.

“The excellence of our faculty is one of the key reasons that The University of Texas at Austin continues to strengthen its position among the world’s best universities,” said Sharon L. Wood, executive vice president and provost. “From fine arts to molecular biosciences, the inductees exhibit leadership, expertise and impact across an extraordinary range of disciplines. I am proud to see them honored by the academy for the full breadth and depth of their achievements.”

Anslyn is the Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry. His scholarly interests range broadly across the field of chemistry, though he is known for his contributions in chemical sensing. He has been recognized for both his teaching skills and research, and he was previously awarded an American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award for his research in supramolecular chemistry. Since joining UT in 1989, he’s been sharing his excitement for chemistry with his students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

He has contributed to defense research in the area of chemical and biological detection and detoxification in collaboration with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Anslyn is also the previous recipient of a MURI award and has received support from the Army Research Office to develop polymers for encryption and encoding methods.

Ochman holds the Joseph J. & Jeanne M. Lagowski Regents Professorship in Molecular Biosciences. Originally trained as a population geneticist, he shifted to studying the organization and evolution of bacterial genomes. He has been investigating molecular evolution and the diversity of interactions among microbes in his lab, where researchers apply experimental, comparative and computational approaches to examine the evolution and adaptation of microbial genomes.

His research interests include biodiversity, immunology, microbiology and genetics. In addition to his lab, he also works with the Biodiversity Center, John Ring LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease, and the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology. With more than 173 publications, Ochman has served on editorial boards for genome research, environmental microbiology, and molecular evolution.

Adapted from a post on UT News.