By Meaghan Thurston
Prof. Graham A.C. Bell is among the newly elected Foreign Honorary Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 2014. Established by the Massachusetts legislature in the late 1700s, the Academy is America’s oldest and most prestigious learned honorary and independent policy societies. Its book of members reads like a Who’s Who of the most renowned scholars, scientists, and politicians from America and abroad – including, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Niels Bohr, Winston Churchill and Stephen Hawking, among others.
“It is a privilege to honour these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity – and responsibility – to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”
Prof. Bell, 65, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970, a Master of Arts degree in 1971, and a Ph.D. in animal ecology in 1974 from St Peter’s College, Oxford. He joined McGill University in 1976 and was appointed the Molson Chair of Genetics in 1992. He served as the Director of the Redpath Museum from 1995 to 2005. His lab has produced over 140 research papers and five books dealing with experimental evolution and evolutionary ecology. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1994, he was also awarded the Léo-Pariseau Prize in 2002 and the Prix du Québec in sciences in 2004. He was elected President of the Royal Society of Canada in 2013.
Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; the Wolf Prize; the Pulitzer Prize; National Medal of the Arts; MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony Awards. Astrophysicist Neta A. Bahcall, Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera, and Dan Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, are among the winners in the scientist category. Social scientists in the new class include Raj Chetty, among the most cited young economists in the world, and political scientist Paula D. McClain, the recognized authority on race and racism in America.
McGillians previously elected to the Academy include Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor; Anne Carson, Canadian poet, professor, and essayist; Brenda Milner, recent winner of the Dan David Prize; and Nahum Sonenberg, recent recipient of the Wolf Prize; as well as Michael Petrides, expert in cognitive neuroscience.
The list of the new members can be found here.