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UMD Provost & Distinguished Professor Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2016
Contacts: 

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — University of Maryland Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin and Distinguished University Professor Christopher Jarzynski have been named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

With their election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Provost Rankin and Professor Jarzynski join some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academic, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts. Since its founding in 1780, the Academy membership has included more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

“This is a well-merited recognition of their accomplishments that also reflects the academic excellence and reputation of the University of Maryland,” said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh

Provost Rankin, a professor of biology, became UMD’s Senior Vice President and Provost on October 1, 2012. Prior to this, Rankin was CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), a Dallas-based public-private partnership dedicated to expanding the pipeline of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) graduates and STEM K-12 teachers. Previously, she spent 36 years at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, where she served for six years as chair of biological sciences and for nearly 17 years as Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

As dean of UT’s College of Natural Sciences, Rankin created, with her administrative team, numerous highly successful programs for undergraduates, including the UTeach program for math and science teacher preparation and the Freshman Research Initiative. UTeach has been cited as a national model for STEM teacher preparation by several state governors and Presidents Obama and G. W. Bush. UTeach is now being replicated in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative in 34 universities in 16 states.  Rankin’s many other accomplishments as dean included leading the launch of new interdisciplinary research initiatives, the construction of new, world-class science buildings, and the growth of existing, and the establishment of new, research institutes at UT. 

Rankin's research focuses on studies of the physiologic relationships governing the evolution of insect life history strategies. She is a member of the American Entomological Society, the Royal Entomological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She serves on several non-profit boards including the Southwest Research Institute (one of the nation's premier, non-profit R&D firms in engineering and space sciences) and the Science Education Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as the Advisory Committee for the Division of Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation.

Jarzynski , a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry and director UMD’s Institute for Physical Science and Technology, joined UMD in 2006 and was named a Distinguished University Professor, UMD’s highest academic honor, in 2014. An accomplished scientist and teacher, his research focuses on statistical mechanics at the molecular level, with interest in the foundations of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, the application of statistical mechanics to problems of biophysical interest, the analysis of artificial molecular machines, and the development of efficient numerical schemes for estimating thermodynamic properties of complex systems.

He has received a Fulbright Fellowship; the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences; and was named a fellow of the American Physical Society.  He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, and is an associate editor for the Journal of Statistical Physics. 

Jarzynski studied physics at Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Institute for Nuclear Theory in Seattle, he spent ten years at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has been on the faculty of the University of Maryland since 2006.

“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 election affords us an invaluable opportunity to bring their expertise and knowledge to bear on some of the most significant challenges of our day. We look forward to engaging these new members in the work of the Academy.”

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education. With the addition of Rankin and Jarzynski, there are now 18 active members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from UMD. The full list can be viewed here.