Four faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Four members of the Northwestern University faculty have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

Wendy Griswold, C. Kirabo Jackson, James L. Mahoney and Sara A. Solla are among this year’s class of 261 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. 

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 240 years later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, global affairs and science.

Northwestern’s newest members are:

Wendy Griswold

Wendy Griswold

Griswold is the Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities and professor of sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her areas of interest include cultural sociology, comparative sociology of reading and literature, urban representations and African cultures. 

Griswold is the author of several books including “American Guides: The Federal Writers’ Project and the Casting of American Culture” (The University of Chicago Press, 2016); “Cultures and Societies in a Changing World,” fourth edition, (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2012); and “Regionalism and the Reading Class,” (The University of Chicago Press, 2008)

She is currently writing a book on American cultural regionalism, the third volume of a trilogy on culture and place, with a focus on the Mississippi Delta; working on a comparative study of the reading practices of educated youth in 12 countries; organizing a research symposium on “Global and Local Strategies of 21st-Century African Artists”; and studying the changing images of St. Jerome over a thousand years of European art.

Griswold also directs the Culture and Society Workshop, an interdisciplinary workshop for advanced graduate students and faculty whose research involves the connections between culture and society.

C. Kirabo Jackson 

C. Kirabo Jackson
C. Kirabo Jackson

Jackson, the Abraham Harris Professor of Education and Social Policy with the School of Education and Social Policy and faculty fellow with the Institute of Policy Research, is a labor economist who studies education and social policy issues.   

Jackson has analyzed several important aspects of education policy such as the importance of public school funding on student outcomes through adulthood; the effects of college preparatory programs on students’ college and labor market outcomes; the effects of educational tracking on students’ academic achievement; and the effects of single-sex education on students’ academic performance. 

Much of Jackson’s work has focused on better understanding teacher labor markets. Jackson’s extensive work on teachers analyzes the role of peer learning in teacher effectiveness, how student demographics directly affect the distribution of teacher quality across schools, how a teacher’s effectiveness depends on the schooling context within which they operate, how best to measure teacher quality and other related topics.

James L. Mahoney 

James L. Mahoney
James L. Mahoney

Mahoney is the Gordon Fulcher Professor in Decision-Making, professor of sociology and professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Mahoney is a comparative-historical researcher with interests in political development, Latin America and methodology. His most recent book is “The Logic of Social Science” (Princeton University Press, 2021). He has received several awards for his work on methodology from the American Sociological Association (ASA) and American Political Science Association (APSA). 

Mahoney has been president of the Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section and the Politics and History Section, APSA; and chair of the Comparative and Historical Sociology Section and the Development Section of the ASA. He has been associate chair of political science and chair of sociology at Northwestern.

Sara A. Solla

Solla is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of neuroscience in the Feinberg School of Medicine.  

Sara A. Solla
Sara A. Solla

Her research interests lie in the application of statistical mechanics to the analysis of complex systems. Solla’s research has led her to the study of neural networks, powerful artificial intelligence models thought to be somewhat analogous to the way the human brain stores and processes information. She has used spin-glass models that describe associative memory, worked on a statistical description of supervised learning, investigated the emergence of generalization abilities in adaptive systems and studied the dynamics of incremental learning algorithms.  

At Northwestern, Solla has concentrated on theoretical and computational neuroscience at the systems level. She studies the information processing capabilities of networks of neurons, their dynamics and their connection to behavior. Her focus is on sensory processing and motor control. 

“We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas,” said David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”

“The Academy was founded on the belief that the new republic should honor truly accomplished individuals and engage them in meaningful work,” said Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “The Academy’s dual mission continues to this day. Membership is an honor, and also an opportunity to shape ideas and influence policy in areas as diverse as the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.”

The complete list of individuals elected in 2022, including 37 International Honorary Members from 16 countries, is available on the Academy website

The new members join a distinguished group of individuals elected to the Academy before them, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the 18th century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848) and Charles Darwin (1874) in the 19th; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966), Stephen Jay Hawking (1984) and Condoleezza Rice (1997) in the 20th; and more recently Jennifer Doudna (2003), Bryan Stevenson (2014), M. Temple Grandin (2016), John Legend (2017), Viet Thanh Nguyen (2018), James Fallows (2019), Joan Baez (2020) and Sanjay Gupta (2021). 

Anita Shire

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