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UMD Economist Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 27, 2020

Katharine Abraham, professor of economics and survey methodology at the University of

Maryland, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), one of the

nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.


“Katharine Abraham is a distinguished economist who has proved an innovative thinker about

how to mitigate the challenges of unemployment and, more generally, on how data should be

collected and analyzed to shape public policies relevant to economics,” said Gregory Ball, Dean

of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “She has served the University of Maryland

and the federal government with a high level of excellence. Her membership in the American

Academy of Arts and Sciences is well-deserved.”


Professor Abraham’s research over the years has focused on numerous complex topics, including

the contingent workforce, work and retirement decisions of older Americans, labor market

adjustment over the business cycle, unemployment and job vacancies, and the measurement of

economic activity, among other topics. She is the current President of the Society of Labor

Economists and Chair of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth. She also serves as

an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the

Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2016, former President Barack Obama appointed her to chair

the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking. From 2011 to 2013, she was a

member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and from 1993 to 2001, she served as

commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


“The news that I had been elected to the Academy came as a completely unexpected surprise,”

Abraham said. “I am so honored to have been chosen to be a part of this distinguished group."

Abraham joins an elite company of Academy members elected before her, including: Benjamin

Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo

Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert

Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959),

and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth, and more recently Antonin

Scalia (2003), Michael Bloomberg (2007), John Lithgow (2010), Judy Woodruff (2012),

and Bryan Stevenson (2014).


The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin and others who believed

the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in

advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years

later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts,

democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

 The AAAS class of 2020 includes 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, non-

profit and private sectors.


“The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have

amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and

courtrooms,” said Academy President David W. Oxtoby. “These new members are united by a

place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the Academy’s work to

advance the public good.”