Donald Engelman and Debra Fischer named new AAAS fellows

Two Yale faculty members, Donald Engelman and Debra Fischer, have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

Engelman is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); Fischer is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy in FAS.

The 2021 class of AAAS fellows includes 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators spanning 24 scientific disciplines who are being recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements.

Engelman is former chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and former acting dean of Yale College. His main research focus has been on the structure of biological membranes. Engelman’s many honors include membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He is co-author of a new textbook, “Cell Boundaries: How Membranes and Their Proteins Work.” He joined the Yale faculty in 1970.

Fischer is a leading figure in the discovery of exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars. Her work has led to the detection of hundreds of extrasolar planets and the identification of key correlations between the chemical composition of stars and planet formations. In 2021, the National Science Foundation named Fischer director of its Division of Astronomical Sciences. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, and is co-founder of the international group Astronomers for Planet Earth. She joined the Yale faculty in 2009.

The new AAAS fellows will be celebrated later this year during an in-person gathering when it is feasible from a public health and safety perspective, according to an announcement from the organization.

The nonprofit AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science.

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