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2 UW professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 3, 2023 By Chris Barncard

Two University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers — Jo Handelsman, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Shannon Stahl, Steenbock Professor of Chemical Sciences — have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

Handelsman and Stahl are among 120 scientists elected this year in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, according to this week’s announcement from the academy. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

Headshot of Jo Handelsman

Jo Handelsman Photo: Bryce Richter

Handelsman, a Vilas Research Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, served as a science advisor to President Barack Obama as the associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy between stints on the faculty at UW–Madison and Yale University.

Handelsman, who holds 23 patents, is a molecular biologist with more than 250 scientific publications. Her scholarship includes transformative studies in microbial communication and metagenomics, as well as contributions to science education and diversity in science. She received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2011.

Headshot of Shannon Stahl

Shannon Stahl

Stahl, known for his innovative approach to controlled and efficient chemical synthesis through catalysis, has published more than 270 papers and been awarded 20 patents.

Stahl has been a member of the Department of Chemistry faculty since 1999 and is an affiliate of the Wisconsin Energy Institute. His research has made it simpler to make changes to chemicals, especially the addition of oxygen, and he has collaborated with industry to extend these methods to pharmaceutical synthesis. He received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and earned the 2020 ACS Catalysis lectureship from the American Chemical Society.

The National Academy of Sciences — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. It is a private, nonprofit institution established in 1863 under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

NAS membership now includes more than 2,500 members and 500 international members, of which approximately 190 have received Nobel prizes.