Nikias, Fuhrman elected fellows of prestigious academy
USC President C. L. Max Nikias and Professor of Biological Sciences Jed Fuhrman have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of an august class of luminaries ranging from soprano Renée Fleming to astronaut John Glenn.
“Election to the academy honors individual accomplishment and calls upon members to serve the public good,” said Leslie Berlowitz, president of the academy. “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”
One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.
“Dr. Nikias is truly one of the most outstanding university presidents in our nation,” said Malcolm R. Currie, former chair of the USC Board of Trustees and chairman emeritus of Hughes Aircraft Co. “He has always emphasized and built bridges between disciplines, organizations and individuals. During his time at USC, Dr. Nikias has encouraged schools and units to embrace interrelational disciplines and forge innovative partnerships with each other, as well as with programs at other universities. These collaborations have extended to Silicon Valley, the aerospace, biotech and medical industries, as well as Hollywood and the entertainment industry.”
Nikias “has emerged rapidly as one of American higher education’s most dynamic leaders,” said University Professor Warren Bennis, a Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the USC Marshall School of Business and a longtime adviser to United States presidents and Fortune 500 CEOs. “At a moment in which the higher education landscape is shifting faster than ever before, he’s displayed rare vision and skill in developing a comprehensive research university that’s able to give meaningful shape to the future.”
At USC, Nikias holds the Robert C. Packard President’s Chair and the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities. He has been on the USC Viterbi School of Engineering faculty since 1991 and was founding director of the Integrated Media Systems Center, USC’s first National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) and the sole ERC for multimedia and Internet research. He served as dean of the school from 2001 to 2005 and became provost of the university in 2005 and president in 2010.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 2008, Nikias was named a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors earlier this year. He received a diploma from the National Technical University of Athens and earned a MS and PhD from the State University of New York.
Fuhrman, holder of the McCulloch-Crosby Chair of Marine Biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, was recognized for his contributions to the study of microorganisms in the oceans and their impact on photosynthesis, diversity and the health of marine ecosystems.
“Jed’s pioneering research on marine microbial systems has far-reaching implications for the future of our planet and its natural resources,” said USC Dornsife Dean Steve A. Kay. “We are so proud that our colleague and friend has once again been recognized for the critical advances he has made and will continue to make in his field.”
Through his research, Fuhrman has identified major new taxonomic groups and discovered how to better estimate the total diversity found in these communities and their role in the ecosystem. Recently, his lab has determined patterns in diversity that help show how the microorganisms interact as a complex network. In the public health realm, his team has helped to link cases of illness to exposure to microbial and viral pathogens in the coastal zone.
Fuhrman earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and his PhD in oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He has been at USC since 1988. He served as chair of biological sciences from 1994 to 1996 and in 2006 won an Albert S. Raubenheimer Outstanding Faculty Award, USC Dornsife’s highest faculty honor.
Nikias and Fuhrman are among 186 fellows and a dozen foreign honorary members elected to the academy this year. Membership encompasses more than 4,000 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members and reflects a full range of disciplines, including mathematics, the physical and biological sciences, medicine, the social sciences and humanities, business, government, public affairs and the arts.
The class of 2013 fellows includes actors Robert De Niro and Sally Field; Emily Rauh Pulitzer, founder and chair of The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts; and musician Bruce Springsteen. Fellows will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 12 at the academy’s headquarters in Cambridge.