Two CU-Boulder professors elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 26, 2013 •

Two University of Colorado Boulder professors are among the luminaries selected for the 2013 class of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an organization that honors “thinkers and doers” across a broad range of fields, from filmmakers and authors to philanthropists and historians.

David Nesbitt, an adjoint professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and David Wineland, an adjoint professor in CU-Boulder’s physics department who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics, will be inducted into the academy at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., in October. With their selection, a total of 25 CU-Boulder faculty members have been elected to the academy.

The pair will join a class of inductees that includes former U.S. senator and astronaut John Glenn, actor and director Robert De Niro, essayist Wendell Berry and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, among others.

Nesbitt, a researcher at JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, works to understand chemistry from a fundamental physics perspective, including, for example, how chemical bonds get made or broken.  Nesbitt's research uses lasers to "see" chemical reactions involving highly reactive molecules, known as radicals, which are important players in a wide range of common chemical reactions, from internal combustion in car engines to ozone layer destruction in the upper atmosphere.

Wineland, who is also a group leader at NIST in Boulder, works on techniques for using lasers to cool ions to near absolute zero. His experiments have been used for precise clocks to test theories in quantum physics and may lead to the development of quantum computers.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780, and members have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.

Laura Snider, CU media relations, 303-735-0528