Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary society and independent policy research center. The academy announced the election this week; Ausubel will be inducted this fall.
Ausubel studies environmental science and technology and industrial evolution. For over three decades he has worked to elaborate the vision of a large, prosperous society that emits little or nothing harmful and spares large amounts of land and sea for nature. His work has spanned energy and materials, forests
and farms, marine life, human population, and climate as well as engineering, earth, life, and social sciences.
Case studies conducted in Ausubel’s program have examined heavy industries — electric power, transport and computer chips — and their use of harmful materials such as cadmium. His work in industrial ecology has resulted in analyses of the effects of technology on human population growth, death, mobility and materials, and has proposed innovative solutions to global problems including deforestation, carbon emissions and energy distribution. More recently, he has participated in the development of international programs to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in the oceans – the Census of Marine Life – and on land, through the creation of the Encyclopedia of Life, a Web site that will catalog all of Earth’s 1.8 million known and named species.
Ausubel, who joined Rockefeller in 1989, is also vice president at the Sloan Foundation, where he manages grant-making programs in the basic sciences. Before coming to Rockefeller, he worked at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, where he contributed to several important research projects on climate change, including the first comprehensive NAS review of the greenhouse effect published in 1983. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia universities, he is an adjunct scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a University Fellow of Resources for the Future, a trustee of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the recipient of a 2009 Dalhousie University honorary doctorate and the 2010 Blue Frontier/Peter Benchley prize for ocean science. He has also had a new species of lobster, Dinochelus ausubeli, named for him.
Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has members from diverse industries and disciplines who have made significant contributions in their fields or to society at large. Current research interests at the academy include science and global security, the humanities and culture, social policy and education. Previous generations of inductees include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes some 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. Twenty-three Rockefeller University faculty members are fellows of the academy. The new class comprises 212 scholars, scientists, artists and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders.