Sustainability scientist James Collins, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in the School of Life Sciences, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, along with Cheshire Calhoun, faculty head and professor of philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.
Collins, an evolutionary ecologist, was chosen for his studies of the role of host-pathogen interactions in species decline and extinction. Collins uses amphibians, along with viral and fungal pathogens, as models for studying the factors that control population dynamics and has been one of the foremost leaders in addressing the global amphibian extinction crisis. He also studies the scientific, ethical and public policy issues surrounding the development and proposed environmental release of genetically modified organisms.
Collins and Calhoun are among the 276 members of the 2020 class recognized for their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs. Others elected to the academy this year include singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez; former Attorney General Eric Holder; bioethicist R. Alta Charo; and independent filmmaker Richard Linklater.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded 240 years ago on the idea that 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 with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.