Two faculty members in UGA’s Franklin College elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Two faculty members in University of Georgia’s Franklin College elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Athens, Ga. – Two professors at the University of Georgia have been named members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, it was announced Monday in Cambridge, Mass.

Paul von Ragué Schleyer, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry, and Susan R. Wessler, Regents Professor of Plant Biology, were named to the prestigious academy, which was founded in 1780. Both are faculty members in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

The academy has elected as Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Schleyer and Wessler join as members from UGA: Stephen P. Hubbell, Distinguished Research Professor of Plant Biology; Wyatt Anderson, Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Genetics; Brent Berlin, Graham Perdue Professor of Anthropology and director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute; and Henry F. Schaefer III, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry. Other members from UGA included genetics professor John Avise, who is now retired from UGA and Norman Giles, who died at the age of 91 in October 2006.

Schleyer and Wessler were the only two honorees from the state of Georgia this year.

Paul von Ragué Schleyer was born in 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio. After education at Princeton University and at Harvard University, he returned to Princeton and was named Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry in 1969. In 1976, he joined the University of Erlangen, Germany, as co-director of the Organic Institute and was the founding director of its Computer Chemistry Center (1993). Schleyer became professor emeritus at Erlangen in 1998, but is continuing his career as Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry at UGA.

He has received honorary doctorates in France, Germany and Ukraine as well as awards in seven countries. He is past president of the World Association of Theoretically-Oriented Chemists, a Fellow of the Bavarian and the International Academy of Quantum Chemical Science, coeditor emeritus of the Journal of Computational Chemistry and the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Computational Chemistry. A 1981-1997 survey identified him as being the third most-cited chemist in the world. He has published more than 1,150 papers. He was also recently identified by an international journal as one of the 10 most important chemists in the world.

A native of New York City, Wessler received her bachelor’s degree in biology, with honors, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974 and her doctoral degree in biochemistry from Cornell University in 1980. After serving a postdoctoral fellowship in the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D. C. (sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the Carnegie Foundation), she began her career at the University of Georgia in 1983 as an assistant professor of botany (now plant sciences), rising through the ranks to full professor of botany in 1992. She became a professor of botany and genetics in the fall of 1993 and a research professor in 1994. In addition, she was director of the Center for Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology from 1991-1996.

She has held the title of Distinguished Research Professor since 1994. She is the recipient of the Creative Research Medal (1991) and the Lamar Dodd Award (1997) from the University of Georgia. In 1998 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and in 2004 was elected Councilor of the Academy.

Her latest honors include being named Regents Professor in 2005 and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2006.

She is co-author of The Mutants of Maize (Cold Spring Harbor Press) and of more than 100 research articles. She is one of the principal authors of Introduction to Genetic Analysis (9th ed.), the leading textbook used in introductory genetics courses in colleges and universities throughout the world.

The 227 scholars, scientists, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 27 states and 13 countries, and range in age from 36 to 92. Represented among this year’s newly elected members are 70 universities, including seven presidents or chancellors; more than a dozen corporations; as well as museums, research institutes, media outlets and foundations.

The academy will welcome this year’s new class at its annual Induction Ceremony on October 6, at their in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The American Academy’s entire 2007 class included 203 new Fellows and 24 new Foreign Honorary Members. Among this year’s class are: former Vice President Albert Gore Jr.; former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; New York Mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg; Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt; New York Times investigative correspondent James Risen; filmmaker Spike Lee; economists Gregory Mankiw and Murray Weidenbaum; astronomer Donald Brownlee; robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks; Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter; supercomputer expert David Shaw; pianist Emanuel Ax; historian Nell Painter; former White House official and Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley; classicist Sabine MacCormack; and international public health leader Allan Rosenfield.

Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members are nominated and elected to the academy by current members.