Four from UCI elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Honor is conferred for distinguished contributions to their fields

For immediate release
From the University of California, Irvine
Note to Editors, PHOTOS available at:

Contact: Janet Wilson

Irvine, Calif., Apr. 20, 2016 — Four University of California, Irvine faculty in law, philosophy, chemistry and physics have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which recognizes leaders from the academic, business and government sectors who are responding to challenges facing the nation and the world.

“Congratulations to these four brilliant individuals, who exemplify the innovation and excellence that are the hallmarks of the research, education and outreach in which AAAS plays an important role,” Chancellor Howard Gillman said. “This is another wonderful measure of the tremendous strength of the UCI faculty.”

 The new fellows will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 8, 2016, in Cambridge, Mass.

Those from UCI are:

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean, Distinguished Professor and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the School of Law, for his distinguished contributions to education and policy in constitutional law, notably free speech, civil rights and civil liberties and appellate litigation. He frequently argues cases before the nation’s highest courts, and serves as a legal commentator for national and local media.
  • R. Benny Gerber, chemistry professor emeritus, for his distinguished contributions in Atmospheric and Environmental chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics and Theoretical and Computational chemistry.  His team’s work on vibrational spectroscopy, among the main tools of physical chemistry, helped many other researchers. Separately, he made major discoveries on the formation dynamics of novel rare-gas compounds.
  • Margaret P. Gilbert, professor and chair in moral philosophy, for her distinguished contributions to the field of philosophy, particularly her founding contributions to the philosophy of social phenomena. Her theoretical approach to how the world comes into being through the activities in which we regularly engage has had applications within moral, political and legal philosophy and social and political science.
  • Steven R. White, professor of physics, who published a pioneering algorithm that helped crack quantum mechanics conundrums and led to a new field of computational physics. Building on that, he successfully modeled a quantum spin liquid, a new state of matter invisible to the naked eye, that could be key to understanding superconductivity and building quantum computers.

With this year’s class, UCI has 32 living AAAS fellows.

Also elected this year in humanities and the arts was UCI alumnus Yusef Komunyakaa, M.F.A. ’80, who won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry, Neon Vernacular.

The full list of the 236th class can be found at

About the University of California, Irvine

Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. Located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities, it’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy.

About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1780, AAAS is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current Academy research focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good. The Academy’s work is advanced by its elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.

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