AUSTIN, Texas—University of Texas at Austin professors William H. Goetzmann, a Pulitzer ¬Prize winning author, and David M. Hillis, a molecular biologist and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The society, one of the country’s most distinguished academies, was founded by John Adams, James Bowdoin and George Washington in 1780. Its purpose is “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people.”
Goetzmann and Hillis were elected to the academy in recognition of their distinguished contributions in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities. This year, the academy elected 154 new fellows and 15 foreign honorary members. There will be a formal induction ceremony and dinner at the House of the Academy in Cambridge, Mass. on Oct. 14.
Last year, Goetzmann was elected to the American Philosophical Society, the country’s oldest learned society — founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. Goetzmann, who holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History and American Studies, won the Pulitzer Prize in history for his 1967 book on the American West. He also created a six-part television series for Public Broadcasting Service in 1986 titled The West of the Imagination.The series told the story of the West through the eyes of those who captured its vivid life on canvas and film — the artists, photographers and cinematographers. Both the series and the companion book by the same title won several awards.
In 1999, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Hillis a “no strings attached” $295,000 fellowship to use as he pleases. The awards, often referred to as “genius” awards, are given to free creative individuals from economic pressures and encourage them to pursue research or artistic endeavors. The foundation noted that Hillis had developed new molecular genetic analyses that contribute to the understanding of life on earth. Hillis has shown that the relationships among species can be inferred from small differences in their DNA sequences, revealing both the order and timing of evolutionary processes.