President Martha E. Pollack and Dr. Jean William Pape, M.D. ’75, the Howard and Carol Holtzmann Professor in Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the academy announced April 28.
Pollack and Pape are among 261 new members of the American Academy, continuing a tradition of recognizing accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy and research.
“We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas,” said David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”
Pollack’s research focuses on natural-language processing, automated planning and the design of assistive technology for people with cognitive impairment.
“Leading Cornell is a true privilege and I am extremely honored by the American Academy recognition of my contribution,” Pollack said. “I am also humbled to receive this honor at the same time as Dr. Pape, who has done so much for the people in Haiti.”
Pollack earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Dartmouth College in 1979, and her master’s (1984) and Ph.D. (1986) in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania, writing her doctoral dissertation on natural-language processing by computers.
After receiving her Ph.D., Pollack conducted research and published widely on automated planning, temporal reasoning and constraint satisfaction. A particular focus of her work has been the design of intelligent technology to assist people with cognitive impairment, a topic on which she testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aging in 2004.
Before arriving at Cornell in 2017, she was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, where she was also professor of computer science and information.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors for her scholarship and leadership, Pollack has also served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research; as president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence; as a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division; and as a member of the board of directors of the Computing Research Association.
Pollack is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Association for Computing Machinery; and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
Pape is director of GHESKIO (the Haitian Study Group on Opportunistic Infection and Kaposi’s Sarcoma), an institution dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1982 in Port-au-Prince, GHESKIO works with the Haitian government to provide health care and humanitarian support to Haiti’s most vulnerable populations.
In addition to serving as director, Pape is principal investigator of GHESKIO’s clinical trials unit. Under Pape’s leadership, GHESKIO has helped reduce the virus’s prevalence in Haiti from 6% to 2% of the population since the clinic’s founding.
In 2002, Pape received the Legion of Honor from France’s president, Jacques Chirac, for his “contributions to the Haitian people and that of the people of the world.” Other honors include election to the U.S. Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Medicine (2004); and the Clinton Global Citizen Award (2010), for his visionary leadership in helping Haitians develop their public health system.
In 2018, Pape was the inaugural recipient of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Exemplary Achievement Award from Weill Cornell Medicine. The award celebrates physicians and scientists whose work enhances health and health care worldwide.
Pollack and Pape’s election brings to 167 the number of Cornell-affiliated members, including physicist and Nobel Prize winner Hans Bethe (1962); chemist and Nobel Prize winner Roald Hoffman (1971); astronomer Carl Sagan (1978); former presidents Frank H.T. Rhodes (1989) and Hunter R. Rawlings III (1995); astronomer Steve Squyres (2005); computer scientist Deborah Estrin (2007); and biologist Maureen Hanson (2021).
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members, and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions and perspectives to address significant challenges. The more than 14,000 academy members include Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King Jr. and Joan Baez.