University of Florida plant biologists Pamela and Douglas Soltis are among this year’s class of national and international leaders elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academy announced Wednesday.
Distinguished professors and curators at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF, Pamela and Douglas Soltis study the origin and evolution of flowering plants, plant genome evolution and conservation genetics. They use genomic methods and computational modeling to understand patterns and processes of plant evolution and identify conservation priorities.
They have also initiated outreach projects to help increase public understanding of biodiversity, using the “tree of all life” as a metaphor for the importance and connectivity of all species.
“Doug and Pam Soltis are not only brilliant, hard-working and productive scientists, but also warm, engaging colleagues committed to their students and anxious to share the implications of their ground-breaking research with broader audiences for the benefit of humankind,” said Douglas Jones, director of the Florida Museum. “They are richly deserving of this wonderful recognition.”
The Academy convenes preeminent scholars, scientists, writers, artists and civic, business and philanthropic leaders to respond to national and global challenges. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies in science, engineering and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts and education; and American institutions and the public good.
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, Pamela Soltis directs the Biodiversity Institute at UF. Douglas Soltis, also a professor in the UF department of biology, directs the Tree of Life, a map that covers every named organism on the planet. The pair are members of the UF Genetics Institute.
Jointly, they have won numerous honors for their contributions to the study of plant diversity, most notably the International Prize in Botany, the Asa Gray Award, the Botanical Society of America’s Distinguished Fellow Award and the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London.
The 228 new members of the Academy include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award winners.
The full list is available at www.amacad.org/members.
“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan Fanton in a press release. “Through our projects, publications and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”