6 NYU profs awarded lifetime fellowship for contributions to science

The researchers recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science reflected on their work and their contributions to science.

Natalie Thomas, Staff Writer

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, best known for publishing Science magazine, named six NYU professors as part of its 2021 cohort of fellows last month, in recognition of their work towards the advancement of science. The AAAS nominated 564 members for the permanent fellowship, including NYU researchers Juliana Freire, Michael Hout, Mark Tuckerman, and Okhee Lee.

Paul Romer and Yann LeCun were also recipients of the nomination. Romer is an economics professor, former chief economist of the World Bank and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics. LeCun is a professor of computer science and data science at NYU and the chief AI scientist at Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

Okhee Lee, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. (Image courtesy of Okhee Lee)

Each year, the council elects members from 24 different research fields. While potential fellows are usually required to have been members of the AAAS for a minimum of four years, Lee was chosen for the distinction after only two years of membership.

“I’m an exception, and I’m very honored,” Lee, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, said. “I am committed to making a more just society for all students from any angle.”

Lee’s work focuses on promoting equal learning opportunities, mainly for multilingual students, using science and computational thinking and language. She is currently working with the New York state education department’s science content advisory panel to design curricula and learning standards for students from preschool to high school.

Michael Hout, a CAS sociology professor. (Image courtesy of Michael Hout)

Michael Hout, a CAS sociology professor, who studies inequality and social change, said he appreciates the AAAS for acknowledging the importance of scientific work. In his research, Hout focuses on cohort replacement theory and its impact on labor, higher education, politics and religion.

Another recipient, Tandon computer science professor Juliana Freire, researches the development of computer models and systems that allow users to easily comprehend large amounts of data. Her work in the data science field has led to the development of scientific tools used by the New York City Department of Transportation, such as TaxiVis, which compiles data from every taxi in the city for use by taxi companies and the administrative agencies.

“It is important to recognize impactful work and to highlight scientists that can be role models for the young generation,” Freire said. “Being inspired by real problems, my work has advanced computer science methodologies, and at the same time, it has driven new discoveries in computer science and other scientific fields.”

Mark Tuckerman, a CAS chemistry and mathematics professor. (Image courtesy of Mark Tuckerman)

Freire said that her recognition comes from the help of her research team — one of whom is chemistry and mathematics professor Tuckerman — who also received the fellowship. Tuckerman, a theoretical chemist who devises computational algorithms to solve mathematical models of chemical phenomena, studies the advancement of clean energy technologies.

“I could not have done this alone, and so tremendous thanks goes out to the many students and postdocs who have been a part of my research group over the years for the work they have done,” Tuckerman said. “It has been a privilege to have served as a mentor to them. This accomplishment really belongs to them.”

Contact Natalie Thomas at [email protected].