Biologist Lynn Margulis of UMass Amherst Elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

May 5, 1998

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AMHERST, Mass. - Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Massachusetts, and a renowned scientist and author, has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Margulis was one of seven Fellows elected in the evolutionary and population biology and ecology section of the mathematical and physical sciences category. A total of 147 Fellows were elected in all categories this year.

Founded in 1780, the Academy is a learned honorary society that recognizes distinguished achievement in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, and conducts programs on societal issues. It is perhaps best known to the public through its quarterly journal, "Daedalus." Current members number about 4,000. Election to the Academy is highly prestigious and is the result of an extensive selection process by current Academy members.

"Professor Margulis’s election as an Academy Fellow adds to her many accolades, and is a very appropriate recognition of her international stature within the scientific community," says Linda Slakey, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Margulis is internationally recognized for her research on the evolution of eukaryotic cells, or those that have a nucleus. She is the leading proponent of the idea that symbiogenesis, the merger of previously independent organisms, is of great importance to evolutionary change. She is also a supporter of the Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth’s temperature and chemical composition are actively regulated as a consequence of the metabolism, growth, death, and evolution of interacting organisms.

Margulis is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Last year she was elected a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. The recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, in April she was presented with the Desert Research Institute’s 11th Nevada Medal for outstanding scientific achievement. She is the author or co-author of hundreds of publications, including several popular books written with her son, Dorian Sagan. She has been a member of the UMass faculty since 1988.

Besides Margulis, two others with connections to the University were also elected Fellows. Cora B. Marrett, University vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, was elected in the category of educational and scientific administration Also elected was artist Chuck Close, former UMass faculty member and honorary degree recipient, whose three-month retrospective is now on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Formal induction ceremonies will take place Oct. 3 in Cambridge, Mass.