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UNC Professors inducted into honorary society

Two UNC professors were elected Wednesday to join the ranks of artists, musicians and world leaders in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is one of the oldest honorary societies in the country, selects those who are outstanding in their field. For Professors Joel Kingsolver and Keith Burridge, that field was science.

With the addition of Kingsolver and Burridge, there are currently 38 UNC faculty members who have been elected into the academy according to a UNC news release.

“This is one of the top academic honors in the country,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Provost Jim Dean in a press release. “And so to have two of our own honored and recognized is not only a recognition of merit and accomplishments, but a reflection of how our University attracts and retains the best and the brightest.”

“We are so proud of their distinguished work and scholarship, which shape some of the most important health and environmental issues of our time.”

Burridge, a Kenan Distinguished Professor in Cell Biology and Physiology, has done seminal work in cellular mechanisms of movement. 

Also a Kenan Distinguished Professor in Biology, Kingsolver studies the immediate effects of evolution on insect life.

“I study basically how ecology and evolution work together in real time. I study things like what makes agricultural pests pests or (if) butterflies evolve in response to climate change,” Kingsolver said.

Kingsolver said he is excited to be inducted into the academy at the same time as his longtime jazz hero Wayne Shorter.

“It’s an opportunity to meet and learn from people in really widely different fields,” he said. “So much in a university we, at least I do, spend lots of time talking with other biologists and scientists but I really enjoy being able to meet and talk to people from a whole wide range of disciplines.”

“It’s a great honor. There are a number of colleagues I have that are in the Academy that I really admire and appreciate.”

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