Six Professors Named 2012 Fellows of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 16, 2012

Six Columbia professors—with expertise ranging from neuroscience and mathematics to journalism and visual arts—were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious and oldest honorary societies.

Founded during the Revolutionary War by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other leaders of the new nation, the purpose of the society “is to provide a forum for scholars, professionals, and government and business leaders to work together on behalf of the democratic interests of the republic.” Its members include more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Columbia professors selected as 2012 fellows include:

Professor of art history and archaeology Barry Bergdoll current serves as chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. His work focuses on 19th and 20th century architectural history, theory and criticism, with a particular emphasis on France and Germany between 1750 and 1900. He has studied questions of the politics of cultural representation in architecture, the larger ideological content of nineteenth-century architectural theory, and the changing role of both architecture as a profession and architecture as a cultural product in nineteenth-century European society. Bergdoll's interests also include the intersections of architecture and new technologies—and eventually cultures—of representations in the modern period, especially photography and film.

Steven A. Siegelbaum, professor of neuroscience and pharmacology, is the chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. His research is at the forefront of understanding the role of neural circuitry in learning, behavior and memory. He is a recipient of the Herbert J. Kayden Award in biomedical science from the New York Academy of Sciences, is an associate editor for the journal "Neuron" and serves on the editorial boards of the "Journal of Neurophysiology," the "Journal of General Physiology" and "Channels."

Kara Walker, professor of visual arts, was the recipient of the Deutsche Bank Prize and was the American representative to the São Paulo Biennial. Her recent solo museum show "Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love," opened at the Walker Art Center in 2007 and traveled to ARC/Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Her work is included at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery in London, the Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanee in Rome and Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

Michael Schudson is a professor at Columbia Journalism School. An expert on the history and sociology of American news reporting, he is the author of seven books and the editor of three others. He has been a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, a resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellow. In 2004, he received the Murray Edelman distinguished career award from the political communication section of the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association. Schudson's articles have appeared in the "Columbia Journalism Review," "Wilson Quarterly" and "The American Prospect." He has published op-eds in newspapers including "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." Schudson holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard.

Joan Sylvia Lyttle Birman is a professor emeritus at Barnard College. She is a double alumna, with a B.A. from Barnard and an M.A. in physics from Columbia. She was elected to the European Academy of Sciences in 2003. An export on Low-Dimensional Topology and Knot Theory, she has been a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and a Sloan Foundation Fellow. Birman is the author or co-author of 74 research manuscripts and the author or editor of 5 books. She joined the Mathematics Department at Barnard in 1973.

Dennis V. Kent is an adjunct professor and senior research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who focuses on paleomagnetism, geomagnetism and rock magnetism, and their application to geologic problems. His research includes Cenozoic and Mesozoic geomagnetic polarity time scales; paleoclimatology, paleogeography and tectonics of the Pangea supercontinent; paleofield intensity variations; and magnetic properties of sediments, oceanic basalts and polar ice.

Members of the 2012 class include winners of the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award, the Pulitzer and the Shaw prizes, the Fields Medal; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; the Kennedy Center Honors; Grammy, Emmy, Academy and Tony awards; the Avery Fisher Prize, and election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 6, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.