Judith Bronstein elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced today the election of their newest 250 members, including Judith Bronstein, a University of Arizona Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a BIO5 Institute member.

The academy was founded in 1780 to help the young nation face challenges through shared purpose, knowledge and ideas. Academy members include those who discover and advance knowledge and those who apply knowledge to the problems of society. More than 14,500 members have been elected since the academy's founding.

Judith Bronstein

Judith Bronstein

"This recognition came out of the blue, and that's the best kind," Bronstein said. "When I look at the list of people in ecology and evolution in the academy, I see so many people I admire and so many old friends. Now, they're all emailing me and saying wonderful things. It's nice to see that my work all these years has made a difference."

Bronstein was one of the first ecologists to focus on mutually beneficial cooperation between species, called mutualism, and what the various instances of mutualism have in common. As a young faculty member in the early 1990s, she was already the world's foremost expert in the field. Over the years, she has prioritized fostering the careers of younger scientists through mentorship and collaboration. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and is currently working on a monograph on mutualism to summarize all that has been gleaned from the field in the decades since her work began.

Bronstein was a teenager when Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. The event inspired her to make a difference. Later, at Brown University, she took classes in environmental policy and science and found a passion for the world of academia.

She earned her doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology in 1986 from the University of Michigan. She joined the UArizona faculty in 1989 and was recognized as a University Distinguished Professor in 2012. In 2016, she was elected a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, and in 2023, she earned the Distinguished Achievement in the Conceptual Unification of the Biological Sciences award from the American Society of Naturalists, a recognition of which she is particularly proud.

"Judith Bronstein exemplifies the type of scholar and educator dedicated to the goals of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences," said Elliott Cheu, interim senior vice president for research and innovation. "While her work in the area ecology and mutualism is world-famous, her impact on our local community and passion for supporting our local educational system is truly amazing. We are lucky to have such a distinguished faculty member at the University of Arizona."

"I am thrilled for professor Bronstein, and for our department, college and university," said Michael Worobey, head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Science. "I have had the pleasure of working alongside Judie (Bronstein) in ecology and evolutionary biology for more than 20 years, and she is utterly deserving of this – one of the highest honors bestowed on scientists in the United States. Judie (Bronstein) is a triple threat; Her teaching, service and research impacts are profound. She does world-class research and scholarship, then works tirelessly to communicate it to others and train new generations of scientists. She is a national treasure, and she embodies exactly what makes universities and academia indispensable institutions, which matter now more than ever."

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected innovative thinkers from each generation, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton in the 18th century; Ralph Waldo Emerson and Maria Mitchell in the 19th; and Robert Frost, Martha Graham, Margaret Mead, Milton Friedman and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

"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."

Bronstein joins many other UArizona faculty elected to the academy, including Roger AngelNoam ChomskyJohn HildebrandRenu Malhotra, George Rieke and Marcia Rieke

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