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Posted by Rob Knies
George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, meet Jennifer Chayes and Leslie Lamport.
Figuratively speaking, that’s what happened on April 23, when the American Academy of Arts & Sciences announced that Chayes and Lamport, of Microsoft Research, have been elected as Fellows.Chayes, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City, and Lamport, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, thus join the august company of Washington, the first U.S. president, and Franklin, one of the country’s Founding Fathers. Other notable Academy Fellows include the likes of Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Mead, and Martin Luther King Jr.“The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s most highly esteemed honorary societies, and selection for membership is an exceptional achievement,” says Jeannette Wing, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, herself an Academy Fellow. “Given their scientific accomplishments, Jennifer and Leslie clearly are worthy of this distinction. My hearty congratulations to them both.”Chayes is best known for her work on phase transitions, and on models and properties of networks. She is one of the world's top experts in the modeling and analysis of dynamically growing networks.Lamport, meanwhile, was named March 18 as winner of the 2013 A.M. Turing Award, considered the Nobel Prize of computing.“It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” says Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s board of directors, of the class of new members. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity—and responsibility—to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”Membership in the AAAS comes in two forms: Fellowships and Foreign Honorary Memberships. This year’s list of Fellows, which includes world leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts, include Dan Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Pulitzer Prize winners Jules Feiffer and Annie Proulx, novelist/screenwriter John Irving, actor/director Al Pacino, and Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of Labor.The new class of members will be inducted Oct. 11 at the Academy headquarters, located in Cambridge, Mass.The Academy, one of the nation’s oldest learned societies, convenes leaders from academia, business, and government to address critical challenges facing the world. Members of the Academy contribute to studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.Academy membership includes more than 4,600 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members. Among the Fellows are more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 winners of the Pulitzer Prize.