Two UC San Diego faculty members – philosopher Patricia Smith Churchland and physicist and neurobiologist David Kleinfeld – have been elected to the 2015 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A prestigious honorary society, the academy elects “accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts.” It has been picking top “thinkers and doers” from each generation since its founding in 1780. Members have included George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 20th. Members of the 2015 class include winners of the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.
This year’s election of Churchland and Kleinfeld brings UC San Diego’s current membership in the academy to 113.
“The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is composed of some of the most innovative and visionary people in the world,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are proud to have two additional UC San Diego professors elected as members. Their path-breaking scholarship further advances our national reputation and ultimately benefits us all.”
Patricia Churchland – UC President’s Professor of Philosophy Emeritus and a former chair of the philosophy department at UC San Diego – is one of the founders of “neurophilosophy,” combining philosophical inquiry with the latest findings in neuroscience. The central focus of Churchland’s research has been the development of the hypothesis that the mind is the brain. She has explored the neurobiological basis of consciousness, the self and free will, as well as the impact of scientific developments on our understanding of these and on decision-making, ethics, learning and religion. Her most recent book is “Touching a Nerve.” Churchland earned her doctorate at Oxford University and is a winner of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.
David Kleinfeld – a distinguished professor of physics and biology in the Section of Neurobiology – received his Ph.D. from UC San Diego and was a member of technical staff at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories prior to coming to UC San Diego. His research has been focused on two problems in neurobiology: active sensing, in which researchers examine how the vibrissa sensorimotor system of rodents extract a stable world view through their actively moving sensors, and neocortical microcirculation and neurovascular control, which explores the topology, dynamics and neuronal control of cortical blood flow at the level of large-scale vascular networks down to that of single microvessels.
The 2015 class will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 10, in Cambridge, Mass.