Two from U-M to join American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Two University of Michigan faculty members — one who specializes in judgment and decision behavior, and another interested in the development of ulcers and gastric cancer — have been selected to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Frank Yates

Juanita Merchant

The society, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in scholarly and professional fields, elected Frank Yates and Juanita Merchant to the 2017 class of  228 new members. It includes scholars, scientists, writers and artists, as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.

Yates is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and professor of psychology in LSA, and of business administration in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Merchant is the H. Marvin Pollard Professor of Gastrointestinal Sciences, and professor of internal medicine and of molecular and integrative physiology in the Medical School.

“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the AAAS board of directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

Yates said for as long as he can remember he has been fascinated by all aspects of decision making. His group has been especially concerned with understanding and improving decision behavior in the natural contexts in which it occurs.

“I was very surprised and honored,” Yates said. “The AAAS fellows I have known over the years have always been distinguished by their creativity, integrity and commitment to society. The prospect of being associated with such people is humbling.”

Merchant studies how cells in the stomach and other areas of the digestive tract control the “reading” of their DNA. They look at how tiny alterations in that process affect cell growth, response to invading microbes and the development of pre-cancerous and cancerous tissue.

“I was completely surprised when I received the notification,” Merchant said. “Unlike other honorific organizations, this organization includes artists, film stars, scientists and physicians. The ceremony is in October and I am excited to meet my more ‘famous classmates.'”

The new class — whose members include philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend and award-winning actress Carol Burnett — will be inducted Oct. 7 in Cambridge, Mass.

Founded in 1780, AAAS is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.


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