Five from Penn elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2024

Dolores Albarracín, Charles L. Kane, Edward D. Mansfield, Virgil Percec, and Deborah A. Thomas are recognized for their contributions to mathematical and physical sciences and social and behavioral sciences.

Headshots of five Penn professors.
The American Academy of Arts & Sciences elected five Penn faculty this year (left to right): Dolores Albarracín, Charles Kane, Edward D. Mansfield, Virgil Percec, and Deborah A. Thomas.

Five faculty affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary society and independent research center founded in 1780. They are Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor Dolores Albarracín and School of Arts & Sciences professors Charles L. Kane, Edward D. Mansfield, Virgil Percec, and Deborah A. Thomas, who are respectively being recognized for their contributions to psychological sciences, physics, political science, chemistry, and anthropology and archaeology. They are among the 250 new members elected in 2024.

“We honor these artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors for their accomplishments and for the curiosity, creativity, and courage required to reach new heights,” says David Oxtoby, president of the Academy. “We invite these exceptional individuals to join in the Academy’s work to address serious challenges and advance the common good.”

Dolores Albarracín is the Alexandra Heyman Nash University Professor; a PIK Professor with appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication, School of Arts & Sciences, School of Nursing, and Wharton School; and the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Communication Science Division. As a social psychologist who studies social cognition, attitudes, and behavioral change, Albarracín has published six books and nearly 200 journal articles. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and American Academy of Political and Social Science and the editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition. The Society of Social and Personality Psychology, of which Albarracín is past president, recognized her with the Award for Outstanding Scientific Contributions to Research on Attitudes and Social Influence in 2018 and the Diener Award in Social Psychology in 2020. She was recently elected a 2024 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow.

Charles Kane, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Physics in the School of Arts & Sciences, is a theoretical physicist whose groundbreaking work on topological insulators—materials with a special kind of electrical conduction on their surface—has initiated a new field in condensed matter physics and garnered external recognition at the highest levels. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he has received numerous awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, Dirac Prize of the International Center for Theoretical Physics, Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society, and Physics Frontiers Prize of the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation. In addition to his research, Kane has taught physics courses at all levels, ranging from topics in quantum condensed matter for advanced graduate students to introductory honors electromagnetism for freshmen, for which he received Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. 

Edward D. Mansfield is the Hum Rosen Professor of Political Science and director of the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics in the School of Arts & Sciences. His research focuses on international political economy, international institutions, and international security. He is the author of “Power, Trade, and War,” “Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War,” “Votes, Vetoes, and the Political Economy of International Trade,” and “The Political Economy of International Trade.” A recipient of the 2000 Karl W. Deutsch Award in International Relations and Peace Research, Mansfield has served as a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, chair of the International Political Economy Society’s Steering Committee, vice president of the International Studies Association, and term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mansfield is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press Elements Series in International Relations, and he has served as co-editor of the University of Michigan Press Series on International Political Economy and associate editor of the journal International Organization.

Virgil Percec, the P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry in the School of Arts & Sciences, is a chemist whose interests lie at the interface between organic, macromolecular, supramolecular chemistry, catalysis, nanoscience, complex systems, and synthetic biology. He holds 80 American and European patents and has presented more than 1,296 endowed, plenary, and invited lectures in more than 30 countries. He also has more than 827 publications, including 20 books. He has received many honors, including honorary memberships to Romanian, European, and Royal Swedish of Engineering Sciences Academies, the National Science Foundation Research Award for Creativity in Research (1990, 1995, 2000, 2016), the ACS Inaugural Kavli Foundation Innovation in Chemistry Award and lecture (2011). He came to Penn in 1999 from Case Western Reserve University, where he held the Leonard Case Jr. Chair of Macromolecular Science and Engineering. 

Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology in the School of Arts & Sciences, where she is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies with secondary appointments in the Graduate School of Education and the Department of Africana Studies. Her written work includes “Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair,” for which she won the Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Book Award from the Caribbean Studies Association and the Senior Book Prize from the American Ethnological Society and was runner-up for the Gregory Bateson Prize. Thomas also co-directed and co-produced two films, “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens” and “Four Days in May,” both of which explore issues of culture, power, violence, and post-colonialism in Jamaica. Prior to her life as an academic, Thomas was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women, a company committed to using art as a means of addressing issues of social justice and encouraging civic engagement.