Piali Sengupta Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By David Levin
April 25, 2024

A head shot of Piali Sengupta facing directly into the camera. She has salt and pepper hair that reaches her shoulders, dangling silver earrings, and a bright red sweater with a high collar.

Piali Sengupta

Piali Sengupta, the Harold and Bernice Davis Professor in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honor bestowed each year on 250 researchers across a broad range of disciplines.

Sengupta, who studies how animals sense and react to their environment, is one of 10 prominent neuroscientists elected to the Academy this year. She joins a who’s who of renowned scholars elected since 1780, including Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King Jr., and Madeleine K. Albright.

“I am honored to join this very august company,” Sengupta says. “The class this year not only includes scientists whose work I greatly admire but also includes authors whose books I have read for years, like Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, and Walter Moseley. It is particularly wonderful to be elected in the same year as these luminaries — not to mention (actor) George Clooney and (Apple CEO) Tim Cook”!

Since its founding in the midst of the American Revolution, the Academy has celebrated the importance of knowledge and the belief that the arts and sciences are “necessary to the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people,” as its charter states. 

Today, the organization strives to understand the nature of democratic institutions; produces benchmark reports on America’s engagement with the arts and humanities; and investigates ways to address some of the deepest existential threats to humanity, including armed conflict, climate change, and humanitarian disasters.

Induction ceremonies for new members will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in September.