Seven Yale faculty members named AAAS fellows
By Jim Shelton
Seven Yale faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. It is Yale’s largest group of new AAAS fellows in a decade.
Overall, the new class of fellows includes 506 scientists, innovators, and engineers from 24 scientific disciplines who are being recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements. They are affiliated with academic institutions, laboratories and observatories, hospitals and medical centers, museums, global corporations, nonprofit organizations, institutes, and government agencies.
The new fellows from Yale are Liza Comita, Enrique De La Cruz, Erika Edwards, Vanessa Ezenwa, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, David Lewkowicz, and Priyamvada Natarajan.
Liza Comita is a professor of tropical forest ecology at the Yale School of the Environment and co-director of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. A Yale faculty member since 2014, her work focuses on the ecological mechanisms driving patterns of biological diversity, dynamics, and species distributions in both pristine and human-altered tropical forests. Her research combines extensive field studies of forest dynamics with cutting-edge statistical techniques to produce novel insights into the processes driving tropical forest regeneration and structuring these diverse ecological communities.
Enrique De La Cruz
Enrique De La Cruz is professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and head of Branford College. His research focuses on the actin cytoskeleton, molecular motor proteins, and nucleotide signaling enzymes. De La Cruz is currently involved with various scientific societies, journals, and peer review committees, and actively participates in a number of outreach programs focused on enhancing minority participation and career development in the sciences. He joined the Yale faculty in 2001.
Erika Edwards is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, curator of botany at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and director of the Marsh Botanical Garden at Yale. Her research focuses on various problems in plant evolution, and integrates many types of biological data — quantifying everything from molecules to global climate — to build a complete picture of how and why plants have evolved such a diverse array of forms. She has been a Yale faculty member since 2017.
Vanessa Ezenwa, a member of the Yale faculty since 2021, is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Her research centers on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wild animal populations. She has a long-standing interest in understanding how within-organism interactions between hosts and pathogens influence the consequences of disease at higher scales of biological organization.
Eduardo Fernandez-Duque is a professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. A biological anthropologist with a general interest in understanding the evolution and maintenance of social systems, Fernandez-Duque’s main research interest is to examine the mechanisms that maintain pair-living, sexual monogamy, and biparental care and the role that sexual selection may have had in their evolution. He also studies living primates as an approach to understanding the evolution of human behavior. He joined the Yale faculty in 2014.
David Lewkowicz is a senior scientist at Haskins Laboratories, a private nonprofit research institute based in New Haven, and a professor adjunct in the Yale Child Study Center. The primary focus of Lewkowicz’s research is perceptual and cognitive development in human infants and young children, particularly in the development of attention, multisensory perception and integration, and sequence/statistical learning, as well as the role that these fundamental processes play in the development of speech, language, and general cognitive abilities. He has been a Yale faculty member since 2019.
Priyamvada Natarajan is the Joseph S. and Sophia S. Fruton Professor of Astronomy and professor of physics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Department of Astronomy, and director of the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities at Yale. A faculty member at Yale since 2000, Natarajan has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the coupling of the visible and dark universe: the formation, fueling, feedback, and assembly history of supermassive black holes in their larger scale cosmic context and mapping dark matter substructure in clusters of galaxies. Her research has focused on confronting and testing theoretical ideas with observational data in astrophysics.
The new fellows will receive a certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin (representing science and engineering, respectively) to commemorate their election and will be celebrated in Washington, D.C., later this year.