Six Harvard Professors Join Academy

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced Tuesday that it has inducted six Harvard professors into its ranks in recognition of their accomplishments in original research.

The academy tapped Castaneda Professor of Cardiovascular Research David Clapham, Cowles Professor of Anthropology Peter T. Ellison, Lee Professor of Economics Claudia Goldin, Professor of Chemistry and Physics Eric J. Heller, Professor of Geochemistry Charles H. Langmuir, and Ford Professor of the Social Sciences Robert J. Sampson among its 72 newest members.

Sampson said yesterday that the news came as a shock.

“My first reaction was surprise as I had no idea it was coming,” he wrote in an e-mail. “But of course I am deeply honored to be elected. Humbled too, considering the lineup of past and current members.”

Election to NAS is based upon a member’s contribution of original research to his or her field. Nominations may only be submitted by a current NAS member and are decided upon at its annual meeting in April.

“It feels great,” Clapham said. “It’s a nice honor.”

Clapham, whose research concerns the role of calcium ions as messengers between cells, emphasized that while gratifying, the election will not create a significant change in his career. “It adds some new responsibilities, but mainly it’s just an honor,” he said.

Ellison, the anthropology professor, said he looked forward to the role that academy members often play in providing scientific advice to the government but explained that his day-to-day commitments would remain the same.

This year’s election brings the total number of active Academy members to 2,013.

“Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in American science and engineering,” said NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone in a press release.

NAS elects as many as 72 new members, as well as 18 foreign associates, annually.