American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected five Emory University faculty members to the honorary society this year, the academy announced on April 22. 

The academy is a prestigious academic society and an independent policy research center founded in 1780 that aims to honor exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators engaged in advancing the public good. 

Charles Howard Candler Professor at the School of Medicine Rafi Ahmed, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies Carol Anderson, Winship Distinguished Research Professor in Creative Writing Jericho Brown, Associate Professor at Emory University Hospital Sanjay Gupta and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American Educational Studies Vanessa Siddle Walker were among the 252 newly elected members. 

“The 2021 election provides an opportunity to recognize extraordinary people who help solve the world’s most urgent challenges, create meaning through art and contribute to the common good from every field, discipline and profession,” the academy’s announcement stated. 

 “I am so proud that five Emory outstanding faculty have been elected,” University President Gregory Fenves tweeted on April 22. “Your scholarship reflects the scope & depth of the Emory mission.”

The last Emory faculty member named to the academy was former University President Claire E. Sterk in 2019. 

Rafi Ahmed

Courtesy of Emory University

Ahmed, who is also the director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, has been at Emory since 1995. He researches vaccines and strategies to prevent and treat diseases. His findings have contributed to 143 patents and 81 pending patents.  

Under Ahmed’s guidance, the Emory Vaccine Center has transformed into the largest vaccine research center in the world with almost $1 billion in research funding since it was founded in 1995. The Center has developed vaccines against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis and influenza.

Carol Anderson

Courtesy of Emory Photo

A nationally-esteemed scholar, Anderson joined Emory’s faculty in 2009. She is known for being an outspoken advocate against voter suppression and racial inequity. Notably, Anderson worked with the United Nations and is a member of the U.S. State Department Historical Advisory Committee.  

Additionally, Anderson’s work as a critically acclaimed author has won her numerous accolades. Her work “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy” earned a spot on the 2018 National Book Award long list. Her book “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide” is a New York Times Bestseller, the Washington Post Notable Book of 2016 and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner.

Anderson has received numerous grants, such as from the Ford Foundation and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University (Mass.), and was named a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.

Jericho Brown

Courtesy of Emory University

Brown, who came to Emory in 2012, became a Pulitzer Prize winner in May 2020 when his book “The Tradition” received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The book was also a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. 

Since publishing his first book, “Please” in 2008, Brown has received much acclaim for his work. “Please” won the American Book Award while his subsequent book, “The New Testament,” won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. 

His poetic success has helped him receive multiple fellowships, from the Guggenheim Foundation to the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sanjay Gupta

Courtesy of Emory University

Gupta, who joined the University in 2001, expressed his gratitude for the honor in an April 22 tweet.  

“Very humbled to be elected a new member,” Gupta wrote. “Ready to get to work.”

As CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Gupta’s national presence increased in prominence over the pandemic. He has also won multiple Emmy Awards for his work with CNN. 

Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, holds membership to numerous prestigious groups like the National Academy of Science and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. 

Vanessa Siddle Walker

Courtesy of Emory University

Arriving at Emory in 1990, Walker’s scholarship focuses on segregation in American public schools and fairness for African American students. She is an expert on Brown v. Board of Education and delivered the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual Brown v. Board of Education Lecture in 2012.  

She was previously a fellow at the National Academy of Education and served as AERA president from 2019 to 2020. 

Most recently, Walker published “The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools” in 2018, which won the 2019 Lillian Smith Book Award and was named one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2018 by Publisher’s Weekly.