American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects Two from Caltech

Michael Alvarez and Ellen Rothenberg, as well as two alumni, join 82 current Caltech faculty members as fellows of the prestigious honorary society.

Published : Thursday, April 19, 2018 | 5:35 AM

Left to Right: Michael Alvarez, Ellen Rothenberg / Credit: Caltech

Left to Right: Michael Alvarez, Ellen Rothenberg / Credit: Caltech

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected two Caltech professors—Michael Alvarez and Ellen Rothenberg—as fellows. The American Academy is one of the nation’s oldest honorary societies; this class of members is its 238th, and includes a total of 213 scholars and leaders representing such diverse fields as academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts.

R. Michael Alvarez is a professor of political science. His research focuses on public opinion and voting behavior, election technology and administration, electoral politics, political campaigns, and statistical and computational modeling. Since 2000, much of his work has related to the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, studying current voting technologies and election administration and procedures as well as developing ways to improve the current system.

Ellen Rothenberg is an Albert Billings Ruddock Professor of Biology. Rothenberg investigates the regulatory mechanisms that control blood stem cell differentiation and the development of T lymphocytes—white blood cells that play an important role in immunity. She has been a member of the Caltech faculty since 1982 and has received numerous honors, including the 2016 Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Alvarez and Rothenberg join 82 current Caltech faculty as members of the American Academy. Also included in this year’s list are two alumni: James Demmel (BS ’75) and Leonidas Guibas (BS ’71, MS ’71).

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the academy aims to serve the nation by cultivating “every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” The academy has elected as fellows and foreign honorary members “leading thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Ben Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 20th.

A full list of new members is available on the academy website at

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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