Provost Carol Fierke inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Fierke was admitted to the prestigious institution along with scholars Angela Davis '65 and Hortense Spillers PhD '74.

Carol FierkeMike Lovett

Carol Fierke

Brandeis provost and executive vice president Carol Fierke PhD '84 has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Civil rights activist and scholar Angela Davis '65 and American literary critic and Black feminist scholar Hortense Spillers PhD '74 also received the honor. Davis is currently a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Spillers, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor at Vanderbilt University. 

Angela Davis
Wikimedia Commons

Angela Davis

Fierke, an internationally recognized biochemist who arrived at Brandeis in January from Texas A&M University, was one of 252 artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors who were selected this year as members. 

Her research focuses on understanding catalysis and molecular recognition in important enzymes and pathways. 

Her previous honors include the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry, the American Chemical Society’s Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes and the Protein Society’s Emil Thomas Kaiser Award for her contributions in the application of chemistry to the study of enzymes. This year, she was also named one of 25 outstanding leaders by the website Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

"I am very humbled and honored to be selected to join the outstanding members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences," Fierke said. 

“I am very thankful for the support of my faculty colleagues and the superlative research efforts of my students at Brandeis University, Texas A&M University and the University of Michigan," she said. “This good news is a bright spot in a difficult year.”

Hortense Spillers

Hortense Spillers

The Academy was established 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. This year, 55% of the elected members are women. 

“We are honoring the excellence of these individuals, celebrating what they have achieved so far, and imagining what they will continue to accomplish,” said David Oxtoby, the president of the Academy in a press release. “The past year has been replete with evidence of how things can get worse; this is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge, and leadership that can make a better world.”

Fierke spent much of her career at the University of Michigan, where she began as a biological chemistry and chemistry professor, and served in several leadership roles, including chair of the chemistry department and vice provost and dean of the Rackham Graduate School. She has also authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. 

Throughout her time in academic leadership and as a scientist, Fierke has championed the careers of women and people from underrepresented backgrounds in the sciences and the academy and has led administrative initiatives to attract, retain and support diverse faculty and students.

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