Last week, four Yale professors became lifetime fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

AAAS fellowships recognize the “extraordinary achievements” of scientists in advancing science, according to an AAAS press release. Charles Ahn, Richard Bribiescas, Chris Burd and Dragomir Radev of the physics, anthropology, biology and computer science departments, respectively, were chosen as members of the largest class of fellows since 2012. This year, the AAAS invited 461 academics to join the organization. To be elected, scientists must serve as active AAAS members for at least four years and receive a nomination from current fellows.

“It is an honor and humbling to be recognized by your peers,” Bribiescas said. “There are many very distinguished evolutionary anthropologists and I am fortunate to have made an impression on our scholarly community.”

A professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Bribiescas is one of eight inductees specializing in anthropology. His research focuses on human evolutionary biology, with a specific concentration in reproduction, metabolism and aging. Bribiescas said that his goal is to better understand human evolution and contemporary health challenges through the lens of natural diversity. Bribiescas’ past fieldwork has taken him to Peru, Venezuela and Japan.

At Yale, Bribiescas is a primary investigator in the Yale Reproductive Ecology Laboratory where he collaborates with graduate and postdoctoral students and other faculty members. He also serves as the University’s deputy provost for faculty development and diversity. He said that he hopes his status as an AAAS fellow will allow him to continue working with “talented and dedicated collaborators.”

Burd said that receiving the fellowship was especially meaningful to him because he has been an active member of the AAAS for 25 years. Still, he added that receiving this type of recognition was never the driving force behind his research.

“This honor is heartfelt, but it was never a goal,” Burd said. “Like many of my colleagues, the reason that I do experiments is to see something that no human has ever seen, and to then share it.”

Burd researches the composition of individual human cell organelles at his lab in the School of Medicine in order to better understand their signaling pathways. He added that his work has aided science’s understanding of the cellular pathways necessary for embryonic development, including those that prevent the development of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. He hopes that as a fellow, he will be able to continue his research with a new drive to explore his field further.

Radev said that the award came as a surprise to him. When peers began to congratulate him on his election, he had not even read the email informing him of his nomination.

“I was not even aware that I had been nominated for the AAAS fellow position. I received an email from a person involved with the process who congratulated me,” Radev said. “It turned out that the email message notifying me of the award had been stuck in the wrong mail folder!”

Radev joined the Yale community two years ago to teach “Natural Language Processing” and “Artificial Intelligence,” two of the University’s largest computer science courses. He now leads research at the Language, Information, and Learning Lab in the Computer Science Department. Last year, 10 of the research papers produced by the lab were accepted into top conferences in natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

Ahn serves as the director of the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena and the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering. Ahn was honored for his “leadership in the creation of complex oxide materials and heterostructures with picometer resolution and control of superconductivity, magnetism, and ferroelectricity,” according to YaleNews. Ahn did not respond to request for comment.

This year’s elected fellows will be honored at the 2019 Annual AAAS Meeting hosted in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 16. Each scientist will receive an official certificate and a blue and gold rosette pin symbolizing science and engineering.

But Burd said that he has already begun celebrating his achievement with his peers and family.

“My colleagues and I shared high-fives in the lunch room on the fourth floor of Sterling Hall of Medicine,” Burd said. “At home, I, my wife and daughter celebrated with a toast before dinner. Our dogs got treats.”

Computer scientist and navy rear admiral Grace Hopper GRD ’34, the namesake of Grace Hopper college, was inducted into the AAAS in 1963.

Audrey Steinkamp |