Press Release
April 23, 2020

New 2020 Members Announced


Cambridge, MA | April 23, 2020 – The American Academy of Arts & Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

Two hundred and forty years later, the Academy continues to dedicate itself to recognizing excellence and relying on expertise – both of which seem more important than ever.

Today, the Academy announced its newest members with the election of 276 artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors.

“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 Academy President David W. Oxtoby. “With today’s 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.”

New members of the Academy include
Singer, songwriter, and activist Joan C. Baez
Immunologist Yasmine Belkaid
University President Ana Mari Cauce
Bioethicist R. Alta Charo
Native American scholar and artist Edgar Heap of Birds
Technology and knowledge strategist Charles J. Henry
Experimental petrologist Marc M. Hirschmann
Lawyer and former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Performer and professor E. Patrick Johnson
Anthropologist of human health Clark S. Larsen
Independent filmmaker Richard S. Linklater
Author Ann Patchett
Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine
CEO and electrical engineer Lisa T. Su

The 37 new International Honorary Members from 22 countries include Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist and obstetrician whose hospital provides surgery, healing, and refuge for thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ueno Chizuko, a sociologist, public intellectual, and women’s rights activist in Japan.

The complete Class of 2020 is listed in the member directory here.

“We congratulate these incoming members of the Academy for excelling in a broad array of fields; we want to celebrate them and learn from them,” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Academy. “When Academy members come together, bringing their expertise and insights to our work, they help develop new insights and potential solutions for some of the most complex challenges we face.” The Academy’s projects and publications are focused on the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, global affairs, and science.


Current Academy members represent today’s innovative thinkers in every field and profession, including more than two hundred and fifty Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The new members join the company of Academy members elected before them, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson and Maria Mitchell in the nineteenth; Robert Frost, Martha Graham, Margaret Mead, Milton Friedman, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the twentieth; and – in the past two decades – Antonin Scalia, Michael Bloomberg, John Lithgow, Judy Woodruff, and Bryan Stevenson.

International Honorary Members include Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Mary Leakey, John Maynard Keynes, Akira Kurosawa, and Nelson Mandela.

Learn more about the Academy's mission, members, and work on our website.