COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Two University of Maryland faculty members—Michele Gelfand, a distinguished professor of psychology, and Alessandra Buonanno a research professor of physics—have been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that a researcher can receive.
Gelfand was recognized for her achievements in original research and is known for many innovative projects, including her theories on “tight” and “loose” cultures, as described in her groundbreaking book, “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World.”
“This is such an honor for Michele,” said Professor Michael Dougherty, chair of the psychology department. “We’re extremely proud of her accomplishments, and are proud to have her as a Terp.”
Her election is the latest of many honors, including the 2020 Rubin Theory to Practice Award from the International Society for Conflict Management, the 2020 Katzell Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, election in 2019 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Psychology Award from the Society for Personal and Social Psychology, the Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and UMD’s Distinguished-Teacher Scholar and Distinguished University Professor designations.
Buonanno's research spans several topics in gravitational wave theory, data analysis and cosmology. She is a principal investigator of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which first detected gravitational waves in 2015, a century after Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted them, and her waveform modeling of cosmological events has been crucial in the experiment’s many successes.
"I'm delighted to see that Alessandra's crucial contributions to gravitational wave research are being recognized," said UMD physics Professor Peter Shawhan. "She has always had a gift for knowing what rigorous theory work is important and for how it can be applied."
Earlier in 2021, she was awarded the Galileo Galilei Medal of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics and was also elected to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which originated in 1652. In 2018, she received the Leibniz Prize, Germany's prestigious research award and earlier in her career received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and the Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship at UMD. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation.
The 59 women elected to the Academy this year make up the largest number of women elected in a single year to the private, nonprofit institution established in 1863 to recognize achievements in science.