URI marine explorer elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 24, 2014 – Graduate School of Oceanography Professor Robert Ballard, along with actor Al Pacino, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dan Schechtman, and novelist John Irving, were among those elected this week to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

One of the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the country, the Academy recognizes men and women who are making leading contributions to every profession and scholarly discipline. Those inducted include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders.

“It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” said Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity – and responsibility – to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”

Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, National Medal of the Arts, MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships, and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. A complete list of the new members can be found at https://www.amacad.org/members.aspx.

Best known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and John F. Kennedy’s boat, PT-109. His most recent discoveries include the sunken remains of ancient ships along historic trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. He is the president of the Institute for Exploration, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, and chairman of the Jason Project.

The new Academy class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 11 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

Since its founding in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Margaret Meade and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the twentieth. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.