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Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D. was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious honor society and a leading center for independent policy research. She and the other 203 new members include some of the world’s most accomplished scientists, scholars, writers, artists, and civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders.

“Joanna and her team have been following Nature’s lead to produce one valuable, groundbreaking material after another,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. “We are proud of her contributions to science and a sustainable society, and it’s clear that we are not alone.”

Joanna Aizenberg
Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D.

Aizenberg is well known as a pioneer in the rapidly growing field of bioinspired materials science and engineering. She focuses on understanding the unique architectural principles that enable living organisms to shape structures with useful functions.

These principles can help reveal economical ways to solve complex materials and design problems, and Aizenberg and her colleagues use them to guide the development of advanced adaptive materials and devices.

In recent years alone, this approach has yielded an ultraslippery coating called SLIPS that repels some of the stickiest substances known; an iridescent surface coating known as W-Ink that can directly detect contaminants or toxins in liquids; and a way to encrypt messages or create smart windows by stretching and wrinkling a piece of plastic. SLIPS and W-Ink received R&D 100 Awards in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

“I’m delighted to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and look forward to helping with their efforts to brainstorm practical solutions to society’s most pressing challenges,” said Aizenberg. In addition to her position at the Wyss Institute, she is Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Sciences at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

Founded in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Margaret Meade and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the twentieth.

Aizenberg and the other new members of the Academy were nominated and elected by current members, and they bring the academy’s ranks up to 4,730 domestic fellows and 587 foreign honorary members. These ranks include more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 11, 2014, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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