John H. Werren, the Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy's membership includes scientists, politicians, businesspeople, and artists.
Werren is a leading expert in evolutionary genetics. His research combines genetic, molecular, and population studies to investigate diverse topics in biology. His studies on the genetic basis of shape and size differences between closely-related insect species has uncovered mechanisms of growth regulation, which may eventually lead to a better understanding of diseases that involve inappropriate growth, such as cancer. Werren's research comparing genomes revealed that some animals routinely acquire genes from their bacterial associates—a mechanism that may be important for the evolution of genetic novelty in animals, and which may lead to new genetic targets for pest control. Werren was recently the recipient of an NIH EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) grant to explore the venoms of parasitic wasps as a possible resource for new drug discovery.
"Election to the Academy is both an honor for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve," said Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. "We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day."
Werren and the rest of the new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 6, at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Past members of the Academy have included George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth.