Andrew Read elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Matt Swayne
April 18, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andrew Read, Evan Pugh University Professor of Biology and Entomology in Penn State's Eberly College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences, has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).

Among many accomplishments, Read, who is also the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, is considered a pioneer in the research of pathogen resistance in response to antibiotics, and vector resistance to pesticides. His work has opened up a new field of inquiry and therapy termed "evolutionary medicine."

"I am very surprised and touched," Read said about the honor. "Great to have the work of my group noticed by the academy."

Peter Hudson, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the Willaman Professor of Biology at Penn State, said the recognition speaks to Read as both a scientist and as a human being.

"I am thrilled that Andrew has received this great honor and it is truly well deserved," said Hudson. "He is a superb scientist who applies rigorous and deep evolutionary thinking to important scientific challenges that threaten our health, issues such as drug resistance and how vaccines can drive the virulence and infectivity of many human and domestic animal diseases. He has undertaken beautiful and detailed experiments on malaria and shown that within-host selective pressures drive the evolution of both virulence and drug resistance. I really admire the way he works out the mechanisms, identifies what has to be done and then does the neat experiments to reveal the processes. A truly great scientist, a generous mentor and a really good person."

Douglas Cavener, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science, noted that “this academic achievement recognizes Read’s seminal discoveries in evolutionary biology and to the translation of his work to human and global health.”

Read will join a group of 213 people from a wide range of disciplines and professions who have been elected as members of the AAAS class of 2018. As part of the academy's commitment to recognizing and celebrating excellence, the academy, founded in 1780, honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators, and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world.

"Membership in the academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility," said Jonathan Fanton, president of AAAS. "Members can be inspired and engaged by connecting with one another and through academy projects dedicated to the common good. The intellect, creativity and commitment of the 2018 class will enrich the work of the academy and the world in which we live."

The academy's projects and publications generate ideas and offer recommendations to advance the public good in the arts, citizenship, education, energy, government, the humanities, international relations, science and more.

"This class of 2018 is a testament to the academy's ability to both uphold our 238-year commitment to honor exceptional individuals and to recognize new expertise," said Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the board of AAAS. “John Adams, James Bowdoin and other founders did not imagine climatology, econometrics, gene regulation, nanostructures or Netflix. They did, however, have a vision that the academy would be dedicated to new knowledge — and these new members help us achieve that goal."

The new members of AAAS were elected in 25 categories and are affiliated with 125 institutions. The 2018 class includes author Ta-Nehisi Coates, artist and scholar David C. Driskell, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Chair Katherine G. Farley, philosopher Robert Gooding-Williams, actor Tom Hanks, Netflix, Inc. CEO W. Reed Hastings Jr., Librarian of Congress Carla D. Hayden, Lockheed Martin Corporation CEO Marillyn A. Hewson, historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, computational linguist Julia B. Hirschberg, economist Hilary Hoynes, Buddhist scholar Matthew T. Kapstein, Indigenous studies scholar K. Tsianina Lomawaima, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, 44th President of the United States Barack H. Obama, NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson, physicist David J. Pine, philanthropist and entrepreneur Laurene Powell Jobs, Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, sculptor and installation artist Jessica Stockholder, gene editing developer Feng Zhang, and pediatric neurologist Huda Y. Zoghbi.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at which the newly elected members will sign the Book of Members, and their signatures will be added to the roster of academy members who came before them, including Benjamin Franklin (1781) and Alexander Hamilton (elected 1791) in the 18th century; Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848) and Charles Darwin (1874) in the 19th; and Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1966) in the 20th.

The list of the 238th class of new members is available at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 18, 2018