UW News

April 26, 2021

Four UW faculty named to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Left to right: David Battisti, P. Dee Boersma, James A. Banks and Richard G. Salomon


Four University of Washington faculty members are among the leaders in academia, business, philanthropy, the humanities and the arts elected as 2021 fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

The UW fellows are James A. Banks, professor emeritus of education; David Battisti, professor of atmospheric sciences; P. Dee Boersma, professor of biology; and Richard G. Salomon, professor emeritus of Asian languages and literature. They are among 252 new academy members for 2021.

“We are honoring the excellence of these individuals, celebrating what they have achieved so far, and imagining what they will continue to accomplish,” said David Oxtoby, president of the academy. “The past year has been replete with evidence of how things can get worse; this is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge and leadership that can make a better world.”

Honored for his work in education, Banks is the founding director of the Banks Center for Educational Justice – originally the Center for Multicultural Education – in the UW College of Education. He holds the Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies Emeritus and retired from the UW in 2019, after 50 years.

James A. Banks

Widely known as the “father of multicultural education,” Banks specializes in the teaching of social studies, diversity and citizenship education. Banks has written and edited numerous articles and books, including “The Handbook of Research in Multicultural Education,” “The Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education” and the70-plus-volume Multicultural Education Series of books published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University.  Most recently, a collection of his works was published, “Diversity, Transformative Knowledge and Civic Education: Selected Essays.” Banks is a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

The Banks Center, established in 1992, is devoted to cultivating partnerships, and developing programs and collaborative research from early childhood through higher education.

Battisti, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences who holds the Tamaki Endowed Chair, is recognized for his work on climate variability. Battisti earned his doctorate in atmospheric sciences at the UW in 1988, then went to the University of Wisconsin before returning to the UW as a faculty member in 1990.

David Battisti

Battisti’s research looks at how interactions between the ocean, air, land and sea ice can affect the climate on timescales from seasons to decades. His more recent research has looked at how climate change is likely to affect global food production. Battisti directed the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, a partnership between the UW and NOAA, from 1997 to 2003, and co-chaired the science steering committee for the U.S. climate research program from 1998 to 2002. He is also a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and of the American Geophysical Union.

Boersma, a professor of biology and director of the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, earned a doctoral degree in zoology from the Ohio State University in 1974 and joined the UW faculty later that year. She has studied the health, behavior and ecological dynamics of South American penguins for nearly four decades — particularly Magellanic penguins in Argentina and Galápagos penguins in Ecuador.

P. Dee Boersma

Boersma advocates for penguins as indicators of ocean health. Her research on Galápagos penguins has focused on their adaptations to El Niño and other events in this “predictably unpredictable” region. Recent Magellanic penguin studies seek to understand how conditions in the ocean — where they feed outside of the breeding season — impact their health, well-being and reproductive success.

Over the years, Boersma has worked with partners such as the Global Penguin Society to protect Magellanic nesting grounds and welcome thousands of ecotourists to view the penguins. She holds the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the UW and has thrice been a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, the highest honor for animal conservation.

Salomon is professor emeritus of Asian languages and literature and the William P. and Ruth Gerberding university professor emeritus. He was recognized for his contributions to religious studies. He is the former president of the International Association of Buddhist Studies and of the American Oriental Society, and since 1996 the director of the UW’s Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project, which is charged with the study and publication of the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts, dating back to the first century BCE. Salomon earned his doctorate in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 and joined the UW in 1981.

Richard Salomon

Salomon is a leading figure in the field of early Buddhist studies. His specialties include Sanskrit language and literature, Indian Buddhist literature and textual studies, Indian epigraphy and paleography, Gāndhārī language and Gandhāran studies, and the world history of writing. He has published seven books and over 150 articles in these and other fields.

The Academy was established in 1780 to provide guidance to a young nation that would face challenges and need expertise and excellence to emerge stronger. Its founders, including John Adams and John Hancock, believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same today with members from increasingly diverse fields working together to share ideas and recommendations in the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.