Prof. Dan Shechtman, a Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry who is running to be president of Israel, has been named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The institution, founded in 1780, is an honorary society that recognizes achievement in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities and is a leading center for independent policy research.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the academy chose Shechtman on Wednesday along with 204 others, who include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers and 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, chairman 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.”
Shechtman, who is running for the presidency but has not yet received the minimum 10 MK signatures required to be an official candidate in the race, is an expert in materials science at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the icosahedral phase and opened the new field of quasi-periodic crystals, which can be used in a large number of applications, including the formation of durable steel used for fine instrumentation and non-stick insulation for electrical wires and cooking equipment.
Two other new members were born in Israel, the astrophysicist Neta Bekel, and Daphne Koller, co-founder of the online learning platform Coursera.
Another new member is Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel and the its representative to diplomatic negotiations in the area.
The new members, including Shechtman, will be presented to the academy in Cambridge on October 11.
Among the earliest members of the academy in the 18th century were George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
Well-known members in the 19th century include Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Martin Luther King and Margaret Mead in the 20th century. More than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners in journalism are among the members.