Date April 25, 2024
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Three Brown scholars elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

With their election to the prestigious honor society, Francis J. Doyle III, Prudence Carter and Greg Hirth join the nation’s leading scholars in science, public affairs, business, arts and the humanities.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Three Brown University scholars have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honor societies.

The new members from Brown are Francis J. Doyle III, a professor of engineering and Brown’s provost; Prudence Carter, a professor of sociology; and Greg Hirth, a professor and chair of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences.

They are among a class of 250 new members, who include leading thinkers in science, public affairs, business, arts and the humanities. Members are selected through a competitive process that recognizes individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society.

Founded in 1780, the academy is one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers. The new members join a distinguished group of individuals elected to the academy before them, including Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King Jr. This year’s new class of members features prominent artists and scholars including George Clooney, Tim Cook and Jhumpa Lahiri.

“We honor these artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors for their accomplishments and for the curiosity, creativity and courage required to reach new heights,” said David Oxtoby, president of the academy. “We invite these exceptional individuals to join in the academy’s work to address serious challenges and advance the common good.”

Brown’s newest members

Doyle, who became Brown’s 14th provost in 2023, is an accomplished chemical engineer and academic leader. Prior to his role at Brown, he served as dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. As a scholar, Doyle applies systems engineering principles to the analysis of regulatory mechanisms in biological systems.

Image of Provost Doyle
Brown University Provost Francis J. Doyle III

His work includes the design of drug-delivery devices for diabetes; modeling, analysis and control of gene regulatory networks underlying circadian rhythms; and computational analysis for developing diagnostics for post-traumatic stress disorder. Doyle has been recognized as a fellow of multiple professional organizations and is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a certificate of post-graduate studies from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

“I am humbled and excited by this unexpected honor, which aptly comes at a moment when my career has transitioned to a role that entails supporting academic activities across the wide breadth of fields of scholarship that the academy encompasses,” Doyle said. “I hope to learn from, and be inspired by, current and former members of this fellowship in the quest to expand knowledge and its impact.”

Carter is a distinguished sociologist known for her groundbreaking research on educational inequalities and social mobility. Her research explores intricate factors shaping academic success with a particular focus on race, ethnicity, class and gender. Carter's award-winning book, "Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White," challenges prevailing narratives around low-income Black and Latino students' educational experiences and has earned her recognition from organizations like the American Sociological Association.

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Professor of Sociology Prudence Carter

A Brown alumna, Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and economics from the University in 1991 and advanced degrees in sociology, philosophy and education from Columbia University. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Education and the American Education Research Association, and served as president of the American Sociological Association for the 2022-23 term.

“I actually stood transfixed for minutes when I got the notification, trying to process what was going on and allow it to seep into my consciousness,” Carter said. “Then I just smiled and became giddy and walked out into the sunshine with utter delight. I didn't get into this work for recognition, but when these nice surprises come along from our peers and such an esteemed body, you feel good about it. I just find it is such a profound honor for me to be in such good company… when you think about how old this venerable society is and the people who have been elected to it.”

For Hirth, the honor has special meaning because he now shares it with his father — John Price Hirth, an engineer — who was elected to the academy in 2005. “It’s a cool family connection for me,” Hirth said.

At Brown, Hirth is known for his pioneering work in tectonophysics, a branch of geophysics that examines the movement of the Earth's crustal plates, the formation of mountains, earthquakes and other geological phenomena associated with the Earth's tectonic activity. His research focuses on rock deformation, microstructures in natural rocks, structural geology and modeling. Hirth has led research teams that have helped explain what triggers earthquakes that occur deep beneath the Earth’s surface and integrative analyses of processes that control the formation and deformation of lithopheric plates.

Image of Greg Hirth
Geophysics Professor Greg Hirth

In addition to his academic achievements, Hirth has held leadership roles within the American Geophysical Union and received prestigious honors, including the George P. Woollard Award from the Geological Society of America. Hirth earned his bachelor’s degree in geological sciences from Indiana University in 1985 followed by master's and doctoral degrees in geological sciences from Brown in 1987 and 1991.

“What has been special for me is starting from the context of a geologist, looking at the actual rocks, and then taking these observations to the lab to study the same processes with a material science perspective,” Hirth said. “Combining these approaches has provided a platform to understand a wide range of phenomena that keeps me going still today.”

With the addition of Doyle, Carter and Hirth, a total of 47 current and former Brown faculty members have been elected to the academy. Others include University President Christina H. Paxson, Nobel Laureates Leon Cooper and Michael Kosterlitz, and National Medal of Science winner S. James Gates Jr.

Induction ceremonies for new members will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in September 2024.