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UT News

4 UT Scholars Join American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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AUSTIN, Texas — Four faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest learned societies for independent policy research.

Founded in 1780, the academy honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world. The new members were elected in 31 areas of expertise and include 25 new international honorary members.

Fine arts professor and Dean Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, chemistry professor Eric Anslyn, molecular biosciences professor Howard Ochman and government professor Christopher Wlezien were named among this year’s prestigious cohort of 250 individuals in a wide range of disciplines and professions. The new class will be inducted at a ceremony during September in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at which the newly elected members will sign the Book of Members, and their signatures will be added to the academy members who came before them.

“The excellence of our faculty is one of the key reasons that The University of Texas at Austin continues to strengthen its position among the world’s best universities,” said Sharon L. Wood, executive vice president and provost. “From fine arts to molecular biosciences, the inductees exhibit leadership, expertise and impact across an extraordinary range of disciplines. I am proud to see them honored by the academy for the full breadth and depth of their achievements.”


Ramón H. Rivera-Servera is the dean of the College of Fine Arts, chair in Latin American Art History and Criticism, and the Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Fine Arts at UT.

Rivera-Servera is an interdisciplinary scholar in the arts with a focus on creative ethnography, new work development in performance and other ephemeral art forms, and Black and Latinx arts and cultures in North America and the Caribbean. As the first student to graduate from the Performance as Public Practice doctoral program in the Department of Theatre and Dance, he has continued to lead an illustrious career and has produced award-winning scholarship, developed curatorial and arts development practices and platforms, and advanced a significant portfolio of externally funded practice-based projects.

He focuses his research on contemporary performance, with special emphasis on the ways categories o race, gender and sexuality are negotiated in the process of migration. His work documents a wide array of performance practices ranging from theater and concert dance to social dance, fashion and speech.


Eric Anslyn is the Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry at UT.

Anslyn is the Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry. His scholarly interests range broadly across the field ofchemistry, though he is known for his contributions in chemical sensing. He has been recognized for both his teaching skills and research, and he was previously awarded an American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award for his research in supramolecular chemistry. Since joining UT in 1989, he’s been sharing his excitement for chemistry with his students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

He has contributed to defense research in the area of chemical and biological detection and detoxification in collaboration with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Anslyn is also the previous recipient of a MURI award and has received support from the Army Research Office to develop polymers for encryption and encoding methods.


Howard Ochman is the Joseph J. & Jeanne M. Lagowski Regents Professor in Molecular Biosciences at UT.

Ochman holds the Joseph J. & Jeanne M. Lagowski Regents Professorship in Molecular Biosciences. Originally trained as a population geneticist, he shifted to studying the organization and evolution of bacterial genomes. He has been investigating molecular evolution and the diversity of interactions among microbes in his lab, where researchers apply experimental, comparative and computational approaches to examine the evolution and adaptation of microbial genomes.

His research interests include biodiversity, immunology, microbiology and genetics. In addition to his lab, he also works with the Biodiversity Center, John Ring LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease, and the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology. With more than 173 publications, Ochman has served on editorial boards for genome research, environmental microbiology, and molecular evolution.


Christopher Wlezien holds the Mike Hogg Professorship in Government at UT.

Wlezien holds the Mike Hogg Professorship in Government. He joined UT in 2013 and is currently a faculty affiliate of the Policy Agendas Project and the Center for European Studies. Previously he taught at the University of Oxford, where he was Reader of Comparative Government and a fellow of Nuffield College. While at Oxford, he co-founded the ESRC-funded Oxford Spring School in Quantitative Methods for Social Research. He holds or has held visiting positions at Academia Sinica (Taiwan), Australian National University, Columbia University, University of Copenhagen, European University Institute (Florence), Instituto Empresa (Madrid), Juan March Institute (Madrid), and the University of Manchester (U.K.), among several others.

His research develops a “thermostatic” model of public opinion and policy and examines the dynamic interrelationships between preferences for spending and budgetary policy in various domains. His other major area of research addresses the evolution of voter preferences expressed in pre-election polls over the course of an election cycle. His current research undertakes a cross-national analysis, examining how political institutions condition the structure and evolution of electoral preferences in more than 300 elections in over 40 countries. Wlezien has also contributed to research on various other politically related subjects such as electoral institutions and representation and mass media and public responsiveness to policy.