National Academy of Sciences Elects Three Columbia Faculty Members

Three Columbia professors have been named members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Election to NAS, in recognition of "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research," is considered one of the highest honors a scientist or engineer can receive.

Cindy del Rosario-Tapan
May 01, 2014

Each year the Academy elects no more than 84 new members, who must be U.S. citizens, and 21 foreign associates. NAS has about 2,200 members and 400 foreign associates; approximately 200 have received Nobel prizes.

The 2014 Columbia members are:

Laurence Abbott, the William Bloor Professor of Neuroscience, trained as a physicist and worked in theoretical particle physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, CERN, the European center for particle physics, and Brandeis. He began his transition to neuroscience research in 1989 and joined Columbia in 2005 as co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Using computational modeling and mathematical analysis, Dr. Abbott explores how single neurons respond to synaptic inputs, how neurons interact in neural circuits, and how large networks of neurons represent, store, and process information in processes including olfaction, motor-pattern generation, and memory and decision-making.

Peter Bearman, Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social Sciences, is currently investigating the social determinants of the autism epidemic. A specialist in network analysis, he co-designed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and has used the data extensively for research on topics including adolescent sexual networks, networks of disease transmission, and genetic influences on same-sex preference. Bearman has also conducted research in historical sociology, including "Relations into Rhetorics: Local Elite Social Structure in Norfolk, England, 1540-1640" (Rutgers, 1993). He is the author of "Doormen" (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Professor Peter Kelemen is a geologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who studies rocks from the deep earth and, recently, their possible uses in battling climate change. He has done fieldwork across the globe, from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to Greenland, Oman and India. The Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Kelemen joined the Columbia faculty in 2004 from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has done geologic mapping in the Himalayas and worked as a mineral exploration consultant, mapping and sampling ore deposits in steep terrain.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furthering science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Established in 1863, it has served to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art” whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.