Biochemist, philosopher join American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Published: April 12, 2017 By

Alison Jaggar and Karolin Luger to be inducted in class of new members that includes John Legend, Carol Burnett, Ursula Burns and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Two professors at the University of Colorado have been selected of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the academy announced this week.

CU Boulder philosopher Alison Jaggar and biochemist Karolin Luger are among 228 new members of the academy, which includes some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, business people and philanthropic leaders, the academy said in a statement.

Besides the Colorado scholars, new academy members include philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, immunologist James P. Allison, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

At CU Boulder, Jaggar is a college professor of distinction of philosophy and women and gender studies. Luger is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and she holds the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Endowed Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Jaggar

Alison Jaggar

Jaggar is a pioneer in feminist philosophy and a founder of the discipline of women and gender studies. During the 1990s, Jaggar’s research focused mainly on moral epistemology, exploring the possibility of cross-cultural social criticism in contexts of diversity and inequality. In more recent years, Jaggar has been working in the area of global gender justice, investigating the gendered dimensions of the moral and political issues that are raised by the increasing integration of the global economic and political order.

Matthias Steup, professor and chair of philosophy, congratulated Jaggar, noting that the academy's members include many of the world's most accomplished scholars and practitioners. "With her election, Professor Jaggar joins the company of distinguished philosophers such as Stephen Darwall, Harry Frankfurt, Sally Haslanger, Christine Korsgaard, Thomas Nagel, and Martha Nussbaum, to name just a few. The Philosophy Department is proud of Professor Jaggar’s accomplishment."

Luger, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is one of the world’s foremost authorities in nucleosome structure, the basic unit for compacting DNA. Her research focuses on the structure and function of eukaryotic chromatin.

She led research that yielded a scientific breakthrough that effectively solved the three-dimensional structure of the nucleosome. Nucleosome is the basic building block of chromatin, the material in which possibly billions of DNA base pairs are compacted in an individual cell nucleus.

Luger

Karolin Luger

The prestigious journal Science included the discovery as a “breakthrough of the year” in 1997. The work is now cited in nearly every modern textbook of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Roy Parker, a CU Boulder professor of chemistry and biochemistry who holds the Cech-Leinwand Endowed Chair of Biochemistry, praised Luger's "landmark contributions" to the field, adding: "Karolin Luger is a terrific scientist and has been a tremendous new addition to the faculty at CU Boulder." 

Luger, who joined the faculty in 2015, said being named as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences came as a complete surprise.

This is a tremendous honor for Professors Jagger and Luger," said Steven R. Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Their election is richly deserved, and reflects well on the strength of our college and campus."

“It’s pretty humbling to see my name on this list of such highly accomplished individuals,” she said. “Much of the credit goes to my present and former lab members whose hard work made this possible, and I am particularly grateful to my colleagues who took the time out of their busy schedules to nominate me for this honor.”

Members of the 2017 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award winners.

Including Jaggar and Luger, 31 CU Boulder faculty have been named to the academy.

"This is a tremendous honor for Professors Jagger and Luger," said Steven R. Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Their election is richly deserved, and reflects well on the strength of our college and campus."

“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s board of directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American academy is also a call to service,” said academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the academy’s 1780 charter calls.”

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy-research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 7, in Cambridge, Mass.

The full list of the 237th class of new members is available at www.amacad.org/members.