Brandeis biochemist Jeff Gelles elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Jeff Gelles, professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, in a plaid shirt with arms foldedPhoto/Mike Lovett

Jeff Gelles, Aron and Imre Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Jeff Gelles, the Aron and Imre Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the organization announced on April 17.

Gelles joins the learned society along with First Lady Michelle Obama, author Jonathan Franzen and more than 200 others recognized for their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs.

“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.

"I am very grateful that Academy members have chosen to recognize my scientific research with this honor,” Gelles said.

Two other newly-announced Academy members have associations with Brandeis: 2019 Richman Fellow Anna Deveare Smith was named to the Academy, as was artist Mark Bradford, a member of the Rose Art Museum's board of advisors.

Gelles studies “little engines,” the nanometer-sized machines made of protein, RNA, and DNA that carry out essential processes in all living cells. He and his Brandeis students and colleagues have developed powerful microscopy methods which allow them to directly observe the behavior of individual molecules and molecular complexes. Their work has shed light on the mechanisms of fundamental biological processes such as the transmission of genetic information and the control of cell shape and movement.

Brandeis counts 15 members of the Academy, including University Professor Jonathan Sarna, and biologists Gina Turrigiano and James Haber.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

“While the work of this class includes areas never imagined in 1780 — such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology and superconductivity — the members of the class of 2019 embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous and
independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Academy.

Gelles will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and join the company of Academy members including Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin and Martin Luther King Jr.

Categories: Science and Technology

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