Celebrating FAS faculty achievements

FAS Shield
May 26, 2021

Dear colleagues, 

As the days lengthen and the sun shines more brightly, I write with gratitude and admiration for the myriad ways in which we have come together as a community of scholars and teachers during the long months of the 2020-21 academic year.  

Some of the most meaningful faculty achievements of the past year are those that often go unrecognized. They include the work of instructors who have transformed virtual classrooms into spaces of community; the contributions of mentors who have supported students and colleagues in managing the challenges of this year, both on and beyond our campus; the service and leadership of those of who engage in the quiet support of our students and staff, who serve on committees, who lead or participate in units and research groups. This labor sustains our community, and I am humbled by all that has been achieved by the FAS over the course of this past year: it is an honor to be your colleague. 

It is also my pleasure to share news of achievements that have been formally recognized. Last semester, I wrote to share the achievements of our colleagues in research and teaching. I write today to share some further accomplishments from recent months. These accomplishments were shared with us by department chairs and represent the period from January through early May 2021. I am certain that faculty have received additional awards and honors beyond those captured here. I hope that you will share your news with us, to be included in a future update. 

If there are other honors and awards that you would like to bring to our attention, please email fas.dean@yale.edu; you may also share such news via the news submission form on the FAS webpage. 

Named Professorships 

First, I am delighted to share the news that five of our FAS colleagues have been named to Sterling Professorships – Yale’s highest academic honor: 

In addition, the university has recognized the achievements and scholarship of the following faculty members with appointments to named professorships: 

  • Jasjeet Sekhon was appointed the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and of Statistics and Data Science). 
  • Nisheeth Vishnoi was appointed the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Computer Science. 

Awards, Prizes, and Honors 

Several of our colleagues have received awards or prizes recognizing the significance of their contributions to their respective fields of study over the course of their careers: 

  • B.J. Casey (Professor of Psychology) won the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Mentor Award, a lifetime achievement award recognizing “psychology researchers and educators who have shaped the future directions of science by fostering the careers of students and colleagues.” 
  • Eduardo Fernandez-Duque (Professor of Anthropology) won the John P. McGovern Award Lecture in the Behavioral Sciences of AAAS for contributions to the field of behavioral science. 
  • Daniel Spielman (Sterling Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Statistics and Data Science and of Mathematics), along with Adam W. Marcus and Nikhil Srivastava, won the Michael and Sheila Held Prize for their work on linear algebra, the geometry of polynomials, and graph theory. 
  • Joan Steitz (Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) received the prestigious Wolf Prize in Medicine for her work on RNA biology.  

In addition, numerous FAS and FAS-affiliated faculty have received awards for research, writing, and creative activities across fields that represent the breadth and depth of the FAS: 

  • Luisa Escobar-Hoyos (Assistant Professor of Therapeutic Radiology (School of Medicine) and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) received the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation for her work on RNA splicing. 
  • Cajetan Iheka (Associate Professor of English) won the Literature Association First Book Award for his book Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature. 
  • Smita Krishnaswamy (Assistant Professor of Genetics (School of Medicine) and Computer Science) received the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship supporting her pioneering work “at the intersection of machine learning, applied math, and signal processing.” 
  • Bill Rankin (Associate Professor of History) received the  2021 Joel Tarr Envirotech Article Prize for “The Accuracy Trap: The Values and Meaning of Algorithmic Mapping, from Mineral Extraction to Climate Change.” 
  • Robert Soulé (Assistant Professor of Computer Science) and his co-authors received the best paper award at the 16th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (CoNEXT ’20) for their paper “Forwarding and Routing with Packet Subscriptions.” 
  • Camille Thomasson (Lecturer, Film and Media Studies) won the Christopher Award, awarded annually to creative works that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” This is Thomasson’s third Christopher Award. 

Three of our colleagues join the impressive roster of FAS faculty members who have been awarded Guggenheim Fellowships: Isabela Mares (Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science), Robyn Cresswell (Associate Professor of Comparative Literature), and Marisa Bass (Associate Professor of the History of Art). 

A number of our early career colleagues have been recognized in their fields: 

  • Arielle Baskin-Sommers (Associate Professor of Psychology and of Psychiatry) won the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions as well as the Theodore Blau Early Career Award for Outstanding Contribution to Professional Clinical Psychology. 
  • Molly Crockett (Assistant Professor of Psychology) won the American Psychological Association (APA) Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology for her work in social psychology. 
  • Anurag Khandelwal (Assistant Professor of Computer Science) won the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award. 
  • Martha Muñoz (Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) received the Gans Award by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. 
  • Michael Murrell (Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering) was recognized as a Rising Star by the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Special Interest Group. 


Election to academic organizations and academies 

In recent months, numerous colleagues have been elected to positions scholarly academies and associations or have been nominated to serve on academic councils of national significance. These include:  

  • Enrique De La Cruz (Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 
  • Michael Donoghue (Sterling Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and Curator of Botany at the Peabody Museum of Natural History) was elected President of the Botanical Society of America. 
  • Rong Fan (Professor of Biomedical Engineering) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 
  • Dylan Gee (Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry) was elected to associate membership of American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). 
  • Anjelica Gonzalez (Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 
  • Marina Halac (Professor of Economics) was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society. 
  • Mark Hochstrasser (Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 
  • Stephen Latham (Senior Research Scientist and Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics) was elected a Fellow of the Hastings Center.
  • Reina Maruyama (Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 
  • Caryl Phillips (Professor of English) was elected to the American Academy of Letters. 
  • Leandros Tassiulas (John C. Malone Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) was elected Fellow of the Association of Computer Machinery. 
  • Ebonya Washington (Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics) became the director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Political Economy Program. 
  • John Wettlaufer (A. M. Bateman Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences) was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). 

Two FAS faculty have been elected to the National Academy of SciencesHui Cao, John C. Malone Professor of Applied Physics (in addition to her election to the AAAS) and Debra Fisher, Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy, and of Earth and Planetary Science and Statistics and Data Science. 

Two FAS affiliates – Sterling Professor of American History David Blight and Sterling Professor Emeritus of History of Art Mary Miller – have been elected to the American Philosophical Society. 

Earlier this month, we learned that nine FAS and three FAS-affiliated faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They are: 

  • Dirk Bergemann, Douglass and Marion Campbell Professor of Economics and Professor of Computer Science 
  • Ronald BreakerSterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry 
  • Hui Cao, John C. Malone Professor of Applied Physics 
  • BJ Casey, Professor of Psychology 
  • Valerie Hansen, Stanley Woodward Professor of History 
  • Gregory Huber, Forst Family Professor of Political Science 
  • Akiko Iwasaki, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology (Yale School of Medicine) and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and Professor of Epidemiology 
  • Marcia K. Johnson, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Psychology 
  • Frederick J. Sigworth, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology (Yale School of Medicine) and Biomedical Engineering and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry 
  • Daniel A. Spielman, Sterling Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Statistics and Data Science and of Mathematics 
  • Kathryn Tanner, Frederick Marquand Professor of Divinity and Professor of Religious Studies
  • Ebonya L. Washington, Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics 

Teaching awards 

Finally, representing the finest Yale tradition of undergraduate and graduate education, FAS faculty have been recognized for their teaching and mentorship. Jennifer Allen (Assistant Professor of History), Aimee Cox (Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies), Jonas Elbousty (Senior Lector of Arabic), and Wendy Gilbert (Associate Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) received the Poorvu Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes outstanding junior faculty members at Yale who have demonstrated excellence in teaching in undergraduate programs. Jennifer Raab (Associate Professor in the History of Art), Gary Brudvig (Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry), and Kelly Shue (Professor of Finance and of Economics (Yale School of Management)) have received the 2021 Graduate Mentor Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which honors faculty members who are exceptional in fostering the intellectual, professional, and personal development of their students. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has awarded the 2021 Ackerman Award for Teaching and Mentoring, which recognizes outstanding teaching, to Jakub Szefer (Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering). 

It brings me great joy to share the news of these achievements with you, both those that have brought public recognition, and those that have been achieved more quietly. I hope we will all take a moment to remind ourselves of the extraordinary community of which we are privileged to be a part. 

With warmth and gratitude, 


Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science