Press Release

New 2019 Academy Members Announced


Cambridge, MA | April 17, 2019 – The American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced the election of its new members for 2019. The new class of more than 200 members recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals in academia, the arts, business, government, and public affairs.

“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”

The Academy 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. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

“With the election of these members, the Academy upholds the ideals of research and scholarship, creativity and imagination, intellectual exchange and civil discourse, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge in all its forms,” said President Oxtoby.

The 2019 class includes poet and foundation president Elizabeth Alexander (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), chemical and biological engineer Kristi S. Anseth (University of Colorado Boulder), artist Mark Bradford, gender theorist Judith Butler (University of California, Berkeley), economist Xiaohong Chen (Yale University), academic leader and former Governor Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. (Purdue University), neuro-oncologist Robert B. Darnell (Rockefeller University), journalist James M. Fallows (The Atlantic), author Jonathan Franzen, cell biologist Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), data science and technology expert James Manyika (McKinsey & Company), former First Lady Michelle L. R. Obama, business leader Charles H. Robbins (Cisco Systems), mathematician Sylvia Serfaty (New York University), philosopher Tommie Shelby (Harvard University), actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and paleoclimatologist Lonnie G. Thompson (Ohio State University).

The 42 new International Honorary Members from 23 countries include parasitologist Nadira D. Karunaweera (University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), public servant and author Kishore Mahbubani (National University of Singapore), theologian and commentator Mona Siddiqui (University of Edinburgh), and historian Eusebio Leal Spengler(Office of the Historian of the City of Havana).

The 239th class of new members is available HERE

“While the work of this class includes areas never imagined in 1780 – such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology, and superconductivity – the members of the class of 2019 embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous, and independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Academy.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and join the company of Academy members elected before them, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth; and more recently Antonin Scalia (2003), Michael Bloomberg (2007), John Lithgow (2010), Judy Woodruff (2012), and Bryan Stevenson (2014).