Spotlight: Zeresenay Alemseged Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Ethiopian American Scientist, Anthropologist and Professor Zeresenay Alemseged (pictured with President Obama in Ethiopia in 2015) is one of eight University of Chicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the United States. (Photo: @Zeray_Alemseged/Twitter)

UChicago News

Eight UChicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Eight members of the University of Chicago faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. They include Profs. Zeresenay Alemseged, Benson Farb, Jeffrey Hubbell, Karin Knorr Cetina, Anup Malani, Angela Olinto, Eric Santner and Amie Wilkinson.

These scholars have made breakthroughs in fields ranging from human evolution and cancer immunotherapy to cosmic rays and geometric group theory. They join the 2021 class of more than 250 individuals, announced April 22, which includes artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Zeresenay Alemseged

Zeresenay “Zeray” Alemseged is the Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. His research in human evolution focuses on the origins and evolution of early human ancestors and how they were shaped by underlying environmental and ecological factors—thus he also studies the fauna at the time our ancestors were evolving. His objective is to unearth and analyze evidence for shifts through time and space in their biology, behavior and ecology aiming at identifying milestone evolutionary events that ultimately led to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens.

While leading the Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia, Alemseged discovered and analyzed the fossilized remains of a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis—the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date. In addition, his team unearthed the earliest evidence for stone tool use in the human lineage dating back to 3.5 million years ago. These discoveries represent a major advancement in the understanding of how we became human and have changed the textbooks on human evolution.

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