UConn Professors Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

This year, 261 individuals were named to the academy with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs

The official University of Connecticut seal, in painted gold on an oak panel.

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Two UConn professors – Dr. Sandra K. Weller, a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at UConn Health, and Suzanne Wilson, the Neag Endowed Professor of Teacher Education in the Neag School of Education  – have been elected as members to the historic and prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This year, 261 individuals were named to the academy, for compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs. Founded in 1780, the Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and advance the public good.

Professor Suzanne Wilson teaching a class.
Suzanne Wilson (Shawn Kornegay / UConn Photo)
UConn Health researcher Sandra Nagler, in white lab coat, surrounded by glass bottles and beakers in her laboratory.
Sandra Weller (Lenny Nagler for UConn Health).

“We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas,” says David Oxtoby, president of the academy. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise, and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”

Weller and Wilson will be honored as a newly elected members at the 2023 induction ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“The Academy was founded on the belief that the new republic should honor truly accomplished individuals and engage them in meaningful work,” says Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “The Academy’s dual mission continues to this day. Membership is an honor, and also an opportunity to shape ideas and influence policy in areas as diverse as the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.”

Weller is an internationally-respected expert in the herpes simplex virus, with broad experience in molecular genetics, biochemistry and cell biology, with a focus on identifying molecular targets relevant to disease. Her considerable experience in multidisciplinary research development includes promotion of academic translational drug discovery efforts. She is a former chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics at UConn.

Weller also has co-founded at UConn a biotech startup company called Quercus Molecular Design, which specializes in the design of small molecules that inhibit multiple protein targets to enhance drug potency and slow drug resistance. The biotech company applies this novel multi-targeting strategy for anti-viral indications including those for inhibiting herpes and even COVID-19.

Weller served as past president of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering and the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs.

Wilson has written on teacher knowledge, curriculum reform, educational policy, and teacher learning. She has led multiple National Science Foundation research projects to study teacher learning in professional development programs in mathematics and science, in school districts and informal institutions.

Her work concerns exploring various measures of teaching and teachers’ professional knowledge that might be used for teacher education and education research, as well as a study of the contemporary and jurisdictional battles over who should control teacher policy and practice.

“As a former high school history teacher, it is an honor to be elected to a society created by scholar-patriots who understood the need for interdisciplinary study to inform our collective efforts to advance the common good,” says Wilson. “It is remarkable – and a personal high point – to be included in such distinguished company across so many professions and disciplines. Of course, one does not receive such honors without having colleagues – and for me, especially doctoral students – who have constantly pushed me to learn and grow. I am excited to participate in Academy projects, especially those that can inform our understanding of complex work of teaching and teachers’ lifelong learning.”

The complete list of individuals elected in 2022, including 37 International Honorary Members from 16 countries, is online HERE.

Weller and Wilson join a distinguished group of individuals elected to the Academy before them, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maria Mitchell, and Charles Darwin in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Margaret Mead, Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Jay Hawking, and Condoleezza Rice in the twentieth; and more recently Jennifer Doudna, Bryan Stevenson, M. Temple Grandin, John Legend, Viet Thanh Nguyen, James Fallows, Joan Baez, and Sanjay Gupta.