Artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders elected to top arts and science body

Vijay Kumar. Photo:
Sanjay K. Gupta. Photo:
Kavita Ramanan. Photo:
Rafi Ahmed – vaccines.Photo:

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences on April 22, 2021 announced the election of new members who help solve the world’s most urgent challenges, create meaning through art, and contribute to the common good from every field, discipline, and profession.

Seven Indian-Americans and one Indian are among the 252 members elected this year, according to a press release from the Academy.

The artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors elected this year span five categories, mathematical and physical sciences, biological sciences, social and behavioral sciences, humanities and arts and leadership, policy, and communications.

The Academy recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to address significant challenges.

David Oxtoby, President of the American Academy said, in the press release, “The past year has been replete with evidence of how things can get worse; this is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge, and leadership that can make a better world.”

Kavita Ramana, Applied Mathematics Professor, Brown University

Ramanan is the Roland George Dwight Richardson University Professor at the university, and an Associate Director with the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics.

She works in the area of probability theory and stochastic processes, and has made fundamental contributions to several fields.

Ramanan was awarded the Simons Fellowship in 2018 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Natural Sciences in 2020.  She was also a recipient of the Newton Award from the Department of Defense in 2020.

Ashvin Vishwanath, Professor of Physics, Harvard University

Vishwanath is a theoretical physicist specializing in the study of condensed matter. His research is focused on understanding how collective properties of matter such as superconductivity and magnetism arise from fundamental physical laws like quantum mechanics.

He earned his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 1996 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2001. Following a Pappalardo Postdoctoral Fellowship at MIT, he joined the physics faculty at U.C. Berkeley in 2004, before moving to the Harvard Physics department in Fall 2016.

Vijay Kumar, Dean of Penn Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Kumar is a roboticist and UPS foundation professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Science with secondary appointments in computer and information science and electrical and systems engineering at the UPenn.

Kumar’s group works on creating autonomous ground and aerial robots, designing bio-inspired algorithms for collective behaviors, and on robot swarms. They have won many best paper awards at conferences, and group alumni are leaders in teaching, research, business and entrepreneurship.

Kumar is a fellow of ASME and IEEE and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Sanjay K. Gupta, Cable News Network; Emory University School of Medicine

Multiple Emmy-award winning chief medical correspondent for CNN, Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon. He serves as associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Rafi Ahmed, Microbiology and Immunology Professor, Emory University School of Medicine

A member of the National Academy of Science, Ahmed is an immunologist whose work during the past decade has been highly influential in shaping the understanding of memory T cell differentiation and anti-viral T and B cell immunity.

Ahmed earned a BSc in Chemistry from Osmania University, Hyderabad and migrated to Pocatello, Idaho, in 1970 to attend Idaho State University; completed a second BS (1972) and MS (1974), both in microbiology.

He is a fellow in the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Microbiology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Indian National Academy of Sciences.

Rajiv J. Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation

Shah is a former American government official, physician and health economist who served as the 16th Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2010–2015.

Raised outside of Detroit, Michigan, Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business.  He has received several honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, and the U.S. Global Leadership Award.

Sharada Srinivasan, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru

Srinivasan received the Padhmashri, the fourth highest civilian award from the government of India in Archaeology in 2019.  She has made pioneering contributions to the study of archaeology and history of art from the perspective of exploring engineering applications in these disciplines.

For the complete list of members elected in 2021, click HERE.



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