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Engineer and Research Leader Theresa Maldonado Is Newest AAAS President-Elect

Neuroscientist Morton Ann Gernsbacher and Biologist Juan S. Ramírez Lugo Re-Elected to AAAS Board of Directors

The text "Welcome to the new AAAS President-Elect and members of the Board of Directors" under the AAAS logo and above circular photos of Theresa Maldonado, Morton Ann Gernsbacher and Juan S. Ramirez Lugo

Members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have elected Theresa Maldonado, vice president for research and innovation at the University of California, to serve as the organization’s president-elect. 

AAAS members also elected two members of its Board of Directors to new terms: Morton Ann Gernsbacher of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Juan S. Ramírez Lugo of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

“In selecting Theresa Maldonado, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, and Juan Ramírez Lugo, the AAAS community should have great confidence in its elected leadership for the next few years,” said Sudip S. Parikh, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “Each of them brings a unique perspective and many strengths to the Board, and I’m glad to have them as part of our leadership team.”

Members cast their votes between Jan. 24 and Feb. 5, and terms begin immediately. Maldonado will serve a one-year term as president-elect, followed by one year as AAAS president, and one year as immediate past-president. Willie E. May of Morgan State University, elected in 2023, is now AAAS president, and Keith Yamamoto of the University of California, San Francisco, is now immediate past-president. Gernsbacher and Ramírez Lugo will serve four-year terms as members of the Board.

Gilda Barabino, chair of the AAAS Board of Directors and president of Olin College of Engineering, celebrated the news: “I am delighted to welcome Dr. Maldonado to AAAS as president-elect. As a champion for engineering and for a more inclusive scientific enterprise, Theresa is an outstanding addition to the Board. I am very much looking forward to working with her. I am also so pleased that we get to keep the expertise and comradery of Morton and Juan at our board table for the next four years. They have both made vitally important contributions to our deliberations during their time on the Board, and I look forward to their continued input and leadership.”

Maldonado, who joined the University of California Office of the President in 2020 from the University of Texas at El Paso, leads large-scale efforts across the UC system’s 10 campuses, three UC-managed Department of Energy national laboratories, UC Agriculture & Natural Resources and UC Health. Accordingly, she describes herself as a “dot connector and systems thinker” and sees AAAS serving several unique roles in a broadened scientific enterprise: as an advancer of systems thinking, as an aligner of the competing interests in the many communities – including academia, industry and government – that make up the scientific enterprise; and as a trusted listener. 

“The potential to authentically engage different people, diverse thoughts, and systems thinking is tremendous; we just need the alignment and sense of urgency,” Maldonado said in her candidate statement. “AAAS is at a pivotal moment as a professional society to enable and guide the scientific enterprise, policy makers, and an inclusive global scientific citizenry to reimagine and influence future directions for the benefit of society.”

Gernsbacher, the Vilas Research Professor and Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has served in many AAAS governance roles, most recently as the chair of the AAAS Council while representing Section J: Psychology. In her role as chair of the Council, she served simultaneously as a member of the Board. The Council is responsible for electing Fellows and affiliates, and adopting resolutions and statements on matters affecting the association. She has also previously served as a member-at-large and a member of the Electorate Nominating Committee for the section and as a member of AAAS’ Governance Modernization Working Group. 

Gernsbacher, whose research focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of human communication and attention, was elected as a Fellow of AAAS in 1995.

Said Gernsbacher in her candidate statement, “I am most excited to play a role in more fully and broadly engaging AAAS members, which will in turn strengthen AAAS’s contributions to the scientific enterprise. I’m eager to involve more members in advocating for scientific evidence; science diplomacy and education; and human rights, ethics, and law. By enlivening and increasing our already strong membership, I believe we will be better positioned to accomplish our important goals.”

Ramírez Lugo, associate professor of biology and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, was appointed to the AAAS Board of Directors in 2022 to complete the unexpired term of Alondra Nelson, who stepped down upon her appointment to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In addition to his service as a Board member, Ramírez Lugo is a past president of AAAS’ Caribbean Division and served as a delegate to the AAAS Council from 2017 to 2020. Like Gernsbacher, he was a member of the Governance Modernization Working Group.

“AAAS, serving as the nexus for scientists globally, occupies a unique position as a catalyst for transformative action. Its potential lies in cultivating a platform where interactions are not only fluid but also frequent, fostering equal agency and accountability across academia, industry, and government. This platform evolves into a space where voices seamlessly traverse both vertically and horizontally across governance structures and, significantly, among AAAS members,” said Ramírez Lugo in his candidate statement.

He added, “This vision excites me, envisioning AAAS not solely as a hub for scientific collaboration but as a transformative force shaping the future of the scientific enterprise. In this envisioned future, diversity, inclusivity, and a collective commitment to action stand as the driving forces propelling progress forward.”

Parikh also acknowledged the other candidates on the AAAS ballot. “I would also like to thank Caroline Montojo and John Drazan for agreeing to stand for election,” Parikh said. “They were outstanding candidates, and we are looking forward to working with them in other capacities to pursue our shared mission of advancing science in service to society."

AAAS members also voted for the following positions within each of AAAS’ 24 disciplinary Sections: Section Chair, Council Member, Nominations/Leadership Development Chair, Early-Career Representative and Non-Academic Representative. For a full list of results, see https://www.aaas.org/page/aaas-annual-election.

Author

Andrea Korte

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