An aerial complete shot of the California Academy of Sciences, featuring views of Golden Gate Park, a rolling hill.

California Academy of Sciences welcomes new Academy Fellows. (© 2008 Tim Griffith)


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 14, 2023) — The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 14 new members will join the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of more than 500 distinguished scientists and other leaders who have made notable contributions to scientific research, education, and communication. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows are partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. The new members will be inducted during today’s Fellowship's meeting, and will join such well-known Academy Fellows as Bruce Alberts, Sandra Faber, Tyrone Hayes, Margaret Leinen, and Geerat Vermeij.

“We’re proud to announce 2023’s distinguished pool of new Fellows—each of their contributions to science and society represent major advancements in their respective fields” says Academy Dean of Science and Research Collections Shannon Bennett, PhD. “Our Fellows body is a group of future thinkers and innovators whose leadership inspires the next generation of scientists, science educators, story-tellers and change-makers. We look forward to forging a future with our new Fellows that advances the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaborative partnerships.”

Fellow Nina Jablonski, PhD, will be bestowed with the Academy’s highest honor: the Fellows Medal, which is given to especially prominent scientists who have made outstanding contributions to their specific scientific fields. Medalists are nominated each year by the Academy Fellows and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. A world-renowned anthropologist studying primate and human evolution, Jablonski serves as the Atherton Professor and Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology, Emerita at Pennsylvania State University.

​​The Fellowship will also present the Distinguished Service Award, an honor that is given to scientists, staff, or other colleagues who have made critical contributions to the Academy itself. This year’s award recipient is botanist and leading expert on flowering plants Frank Almeda, PhD, the Academy’s Emeritus Curator of Botany.

Brief biographies of the new Fellows, Fellows Medalist, and Distinguished Service Awardee are included below.

Recipient of the 2023 Fellows Medal

Nina Jablonski, PhD
Atherton Professor and Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology, Emerita
Pennsylvania State University

Nina Jablonski, PhD, is a biological anthropologist who is recognized for her seminal research on the evolution of human skin and skin pigmentation. Jablonski’s work has revealed why dark skin evolved under conditions of high ultraviolet radiation (UVR) while lighter skin was favored under conditions of lower UVR. Jablonski has written extensively for scientific and lay audiences on the fallacy of skin-color-based human races and the pervasive damage done to human societies through the persistence of race concepts. Jablonski is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Service Award

Frank Almeda, PhD
Emeritus Curator of Botany
California Academy of Sciences

Frank Almeda, PhD, uses flowering plants to address questions about systematics, biogeography, and evolution. The megadiverse tropical princess flowers (Melastomataceae), one of the 10 largest families of plants, have been a primary focus of his research. Targeted fieldwork has taken him on dozens of expeditions to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, and Madagascar. His longtime passion for educating the general public about the importance of biodiversity conservation has extended from our Academy’s Living Roof to many far-flung destinations. He has mentored numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and continues to work with international colleagues to build strong collaborations on the ground in biodiversity hotspots around the world.

New Academy Fellows 2023

Peter Alagona, PhD
Professor, Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Peter Alagona, PhD, is an environmental historian and conservation scientist who uses creative, interdisciplinary methods to explore what happens when humans their share space and resources with other species: how we interact with non-human creatures, how we make sense of these interactions, why we quarrel so much about them, what we can learn from them to foster a more sustainable world. Most of his research focuses on rewilding projects and human interactions with wildlife, including endangered species and urban animals. A second area of interest involves developing novel methods for studying ecological change over multiple time periods and spatial scales.

Nicole Ardoin, PhD
Associate Professor, Social Sciences and Emmett Family Faculty Scholar
Stanford University

Founder of the Stanford Social Ecology Lab, Nicole Ardoin, PhD, is an interdisciplinary social scientist who researches individual and collective environmental behavior as influenced by environmental learning and motivated by place-based connections. Her lab’s studies center social-ecological systems, sustainability science, and collective action theories, often with a focus on coastal and marine environments, as well as parks and protected areas. Interested in actionable knowledge and notions of co-production, Ardoin and her group study the design, implementation, and effectiveness of a range of social-ecological practices and conservation interventions. Ardoin often collaborates with community partners, including public, private, and social sector organizations to co-design and implement studies that build on a theoretical frame while concurrently addressing questions of practice.

Junko Habu, PhD
Professor of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Junko Habu, PhD, researches the importance of food and subsistence diversity, social networks, and local autonomy for understanding the resilience of human-environmental interactions. She has excavated many archaeological sites in Japan from the prehistoric Jomon period (ca. 14,000-500 BCE), investigating continuity and change in landscape practices. From 2014 to 2017, she led a three-year transdisciplinary project that examined archaeological and ethnographic data from the North Pacific Rim. Her current research focuses on the intersection of archaeology, agroecology, and traditional ecological knowledge.

Bruce Hammock, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
University of California, Davis

Bruce Hammock, PhD, discovered regulating degradation of insect hormone mediators is as important as biosynthesis in development. He applied this toward the development of green chemicals and the first recombinant viral pesticide. His research on the metabolism of chemical mediators across species led to the discovery of a new group of human chemical mediators. These findings show promising treatments for multiple diseases including arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s with the resulting drug candidates currently in human trials to treat pain.

Vanessa Handley, PhD
Director of Conservation Science and Global Conservation Consortium for Cycads Chair
University of California, Berkeley

Vanessa Handley, PhD, is a botanist and conservation biologist working in biodiversity hotspots around the world. Her overarching objective is to advance regional conservation efforts via collaborative, community-based approaches. Handley deploys tools that range from practical horticulture to genomics. Her current research centers on conservation genetics, reintroduction of imperiled species, and tropical montane floristics. Handley serves as a specialist within the IUCN Species Survival Commission, participates in multiple scientific advisory boards and conservation consortia, and mentors underrepresented and non-traditional students in the conservation field.

Terry Jones, PhD
Professor of Anthropology
California Polytechnic State University

Terry Jones, PhD, focuses on California prehistory and hunter-gatherer ecology with a particular emphasis on coastal environments and maritime adaptations. He has worked in the private sector, state government, and, for the last 25 years, academia. His research includes the effects of extreme environmental variability on Indigenous populations, causes and effects of anthropogenic extinctions, violence and its consequences in Native California, the prehistory of fishing on California coast, and possible pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contacts with the Americas. For the last 20 years he has worked closely with local Native Chumash people investigating the 10,000-year history of their involvement with nearshore marine resources and habitats.

Marjorie Matocq, PhD
Foundation Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science
University of Nevada, Reno

Marjorie Matocq, PhD, studies the mechanisms that underlie patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation in western North American mammals. Her research explores the behavioral, ecological, and genetic mechanisms that generate and maintain species boundaries, primarily in woodrats found in California. She works closely with natural resource agencies to identify the spatial distribution of genetic variation in the mammalian species they conserve and manage. Matocq is heavily committed to outreach education and to ensuring that students from non-traditional backgrounds have the opportunity to engage in science.

Derrick Rossi, PhD
CEO, Convelo Therapeutic; CEO, New York Stem Cell Foundation
Partner, Castle Rock Entertainment
Harvard University

Derrick Rossi, PhD, is a serial biotech entrepreneur, film enthusiast, and stem cell scientist. His efforts in the development of cutting-edge technologies and novel therapeutic strategies are at the forefront of regenerative medicine and biotechnology. Until his retirement from academia, he was an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University and an investigator at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he led an academic team focussed on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Discoveries made in Rossi’s lab led to the formation of several leading biotechnology companies, including Moderna, Intellia Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, Stelexis Therapeutics, and Convelo Therapeutics. His development of mRNA reprogramming was named by Time magazine as one of the top ten medical breakthroughs of 2010. In 2011, Time also named Rossi as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world.

Robert Bullard, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy and Director of the Bullard Center for Climate and Environmental Justice
Texas Southern University

Robert Bullard, PhD, is a sociologist whose research includes the black urban experience, climate justice, food security, sustainable development, environmental racism, health disparities, disasters, and resilience. He is often called the “father of environmental justice” and has authored 18 books. In 2020, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) honored him with its Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award. President Biden appointed him to serve on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council in 2021, and in 2022 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Franck Marchis, PhD
Senior Planetary Astronomer
SETI Institute

Frank Marchis, PhD, is a senior planetary astronomer at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder at Unistellar. He is known for his astronomical research, including: the discovery of the first triple-asteroid system in 2005, direct imaging of the first Jupiter-like exoplanet in 2015, and many significant achievements related to the use of ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics (AO). He has co-authored hundreds of scientific publications, trained numerous students, and served as a science consultant and interviewee for documentaries and movies in English, French, and Spanish. Asteroid 6639 Marchis was named in his honor after his discovery of the first triple-asteroid system.

Beth Rose Middleton Manning, PhD
Professor of Native American Studies and Designated Emphasis Chair
University of California, Davis

Beth Rose Middleton Manning, PhD, focuses on environmental policy, cultural site protection, and climate adaptation with Native nations and communities. Manning received her BA in Nature and Culture from UC Davis and her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley. She has published multiple articles, chapters, and books with the University of Arizona Press, including Trust in the Land: New Directions in Tribal Conservation (2011), and Upstream: Trust Lands and Power on the Feather River (2018).

Melissa Nelson, PhD
Professor of Indigenous Sustainability, Arizona State University
Professor Emerita of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University

Melissa Nelson, PhD is Anishinaabe/Métis/Norwegian and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her work is dedicated to Indigenous rights and revitalization, Native science and biocultural diversity, ecological ethics and sustainability, and the renewal and celebration of community health and cultural arts. Nelson serves as the president of the Indigenous rights organization Cultural Conservancy, which she has directed since 1993. She received her BA from UC Santa Cruz and her PhD from UC Davis, both in the field of ecology with an emphasis in ecophilosophy and Native American environmental studies respectively.

Daniel Pauly, PhD
Professor of Fisheries
University of British Columbia

Daniel Pauly, PhD, began studying fisheries science in Germany and spent most of his career in the tropics, most notably in the Philippines. He began his professorship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and currently directs the university’s research initiative Sea Around Us. Funded by philanthropic foundations, the initiative is devoted to studying, documenting, and mitigating the impact of fisheries—and increasingly, the effects of global warming—on the world’s marine ecosystems. Pauly has received multiple scientific awards for the co-development of concepts, methods, and software, which are documented in hundreds of widely-cited publications.

Aomawa Shields, PhD
Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of California, Irvine

Aomawa Shields, PhD, explores the climate and habitability of small planets in the Earth-sized regime orbiting low-mass stars, using data from both space-based and ground-based observatories. She was named a 2015 TED Fellow, has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award, and received the NASA Habitable Worlds and Exoplanets Research Program grant. She is the Founder and Director of Rising Stargirls, a program dedicated to encouraging girls of all colors and backgrounds to learn about the universe using theater, writing, and visual art. Her memoir, Life on Other Planets: Finding My Place in the Universe, was published earlier this year. She is the proud mother of 6-year-old rising stargirl Garland-Rose, who she and husband Steven have deemed the most extraordinary lifeform in their universe.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

About Research at the California Academy of Sciences

The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences is at the forefront of efforts to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco, the Institute is home to more than 100 world-class scientists, state-of-the-art facilities, and nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world. The Institute also leverages the expertise and efforts of more than 100 international Associates and 500 distinguished Fellows. Through expeditions around the globe, investigations in the lab, and analysis of vast biological datasets, the Institute’s scientists work to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of organisms and ecosystems, the threats they face around the world, and the most effective strategies for ensuring they thrive into the future. Through deeply collaborative partnerships and innovative public engagement initiatives, they also guide critical conservation decisions worldwide, inspire and mentor the next generation of scientists, and foster responsible stewardship of our planet.

Press Contacts

If you are a journalist and would like to receive Academy press releases please contact

Digital Assets

Hi-res and low-res image downloads are available for editorial use. Contact us at to request access.