Six New Fellows of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

April 21, 2023
By: Robert Sanders, Media relations
collage of 6 portraits of faculty members
Clockwise from upper left, Charles Briggs, John Campbell, Marla Feller, Dung-Hai Lee, Amy Lerman and Philip Kan Gotanda.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences announced its new fellows this week, among them six distinguished UC Berkeley faculty members.

The new UC Berkeley fellows are medical anthropologist Charles Briggs, philosopher John Campbell, neuroscientist Marla Feller, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, physicist Dung-Hai Lee and political scientist Amy Lerman.

The six are among 269 academy members, including international honorary members, elected in 2023 from across academia, the arts, industry, policy, research and science.

“With the election of these members, the academy is honoring excellence, innovation and leadership and recognizing a broad array of stellar accomplishments. We hope every new member celebrates this achievement and joins our work advancing the common good,” said Academy President David Oxtoby.

Among the other recipients are Emmanuelle Charpentier, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna; songwriter, actor, director and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda; authors Zadie Smith and Michael Lewis; Los Angeles Philharmonic music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel; writer, director and producer Shonda Rhimes; and actress and producer Michelle Yeoh.

Nearly 280 UC Berkeley faculty members are fellows of the academy.

Briggs, a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, holds the Alan Dundes Distinguished Chair in Folklore. A linguistic and medical anthropologist, he has published several books on epidemics and racialized inequities and is co-director of the Medical Anthropology Program and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine.

Campbell, the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy, is interested in the theory of meaning, metaphysics and the philosophy of psychology. He is currently working on causation in psychology. He is the author of the books Past, Space and Self (1994), Reference and Consciousness (2002) and, with Quassim Cassam, Berkeley’s Puzzle (2014).

Feller, a professor of molecular and cell biology, studies the development and functional organization of neural circuits in the eye’s retina. She has made significant discoveries regarding the mechanisms and developmental roles of activity waves, gap junctions and motion detection in the retina.

Gotanda, a professor of theater, dance and performance studies, has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States, in particular Japanese Americans, to mainstream American theater. He is also an independent filmmaker and songwriter. His libretto for the opera, Both Eyes Open, with composer Max Duykers, premiered in 2022 at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco.

Lee is a UC Berkeley professor of physics and faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research focuses on condensed matter physics and materials science, with the goal of uncovering new states of matter and understanding their physical properties.

Lerman, the Michelle Schwartz Endowed Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, studies issues of public policy, public opinion and civic engagement, especially as they relate to equity and justice in America. She is director of the Possibility Lab at UC Berkeley and author of two books on the American criminal justice system and a recent book, Good Enough for Government Work, which examines how perceptions of government shape citizens’ attitudes toward privatization.

Founded in 1780, the academy was envisioned as an organization that would recognize accomplished individuals and engage them in addressing the greatest challenges facing the young nation. Today, the academy continues to be both an honorary society, electing new members from the nonprofit, private and public sectors, and an independent policy organization with initiatives in the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.