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AAAS Honors Outstanding Scientific Contributors as 2021 AAAS Fellows

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2021 class includes 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators across scientific disciplines

Washington, D.C. — The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, is announcing the election of a standout group of individuals across scientific disciplines to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community. AAAS is proud to bestow this honor to these newly awarded Fellows in recognition of their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements in the scientific enterprise.

“AAAS is proud to honor these individuals who represent the kind of forward thinking the scientific enterprise needs, while also inspiring hope for what can be achieved in the future,” said Dr. Sudip S. Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

The 2021 class of AAAS Fellows includes 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators from around the world spanning scientific disciplines. The new class hails from academic institutions, laboratories, hospitals and medical centers, museums, global corporations, nonprofit organizations, institutes, and government agencies. Some currently or formerly served in a U.S. presidential administration. For the first time, honorees were awarded from Bard College and the Universidad de la Habana.

The full list of 2021 AAAS Fellows can be found here.

These honorees have gone above and beyond in their respective disciplines. They bring a broad diversity of perspectives, innovation, curiosity, and passion that will help sustain the scientific field today and into the future. Many of these individuals have broken barriers to achieve successes in their given disciplines. Examples include:

  • Developing mRNA vaccine technology
  • Being the first Black woman in space
  • Driving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the scientific field 
  • Leading breakthrough atmospheric and environmental work addressing climate change
  • Providing innovative insights into the formation of breast cancer 
  • Identifying crucial genes involved in the regeneration of animal body parts
  • Pioneering artificial intelligence
  • Conducting revolutionary robotics work
  • Contributing to the development of quantum software
  • Leading research on women's health and inclusion of women in clinical trials
  • Enhancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) diversity, leadership, education, and scholarships
  • Shifting the landscape of science policy
  • Advocating for science communication through the entertainment industry
  • Developing important cornerstones for scientific laws and ethics

The new Fellows will receive an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin to commemorate their election (representing science and engineering, respectively) and will be celebrated later this year during an in-person gathering when it is feasible from a public health and safety perspective. The new class will also be featured in the AAAS News & Notes section of Science in January 2022.

Additional background on the AAAS Fellows program:

Honoring these esteemed innovators is a tradition dating back to 1874. The 2021 class is joining a prestigious cadre of Fellows from over the years, such as:

  • Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois: Civil rights activist, sociologist, historian, and author. Considered the founding father of American sociology, he co-founded the NAACP and was the first African American to earn a doctorate (1895).
  • Dr. Ellen Ochoa: Veteran astronaut and the Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) first Hispanic and second woman director in its history. She retired from JSC in 2018 to become vice chair of the National Science Board.
  • Dr. Steven Chu: Physicist and policymaker. 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics who served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy. Pioneered research into the cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light. He is a professor of physics and molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University.
  • Admiral Grace Hopper: Pioneer in computer software development and programming language. A mathematician by training, she wrote the first natural language compiler, co-wrote the COBOL programming language, and was instrumental in bringing the first commercial computer to market.

AAAS Members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections across scientific and engineering disciplines, by three Fellows who are current AAAS Members, or by the CEO of AAAS. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected.

Each steering group reviews nominations within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list. The Council is the policymaking body of the association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.

Election as a Fellow of AAAS is a lifetime honor, but it comes with an expectation that recipients maintain commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity. In the rare case that an elected Fellow no longer meets this expectation or otherwise fails to merit the continued status of Fellow, one or more AAAS Members can participate in a revocation process, which will determine whether the individual’s Fellow status should be rescinded.

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, visit


Zaid Jilani

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