Neuroscientist elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Semir Zeki (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recognising his excellence in advancing the field of neuroscience.

As a Professor of Neuroaesthetics, Professor Zeki’s work has explored the neuroscience behind the perception of "beauty" in all’its forms, including by researching the organisation of the primate visual brain. He has made huge contributions to this area, as well as via his seminal classical work on the mechanisms of colour vision, developing the idea that colour vision is a construction of the brain, not of the retina.

Professor Zeki said: "It is wonderful to be elected to such an academy, which has united people from all branches of learning and from creative activities in the sciences, arts, literature and politics. I am truly honoured and humbled."

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780, and its first members included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others. The Academy honours leaders and influential people from all walks of life across the US, including those from the Sciences, Humanities, Politics, the creative and performing Arts, and also business leadership. The academy elects a small number of particularly distinguished International Honorary Members each year, including Professor Zeki.

President of the Academy, David Oxtoby, said: "We honour 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. We invite these exceptional individuals to join in the Academy’s work to address serious challenges and advance the common good."

Professor Zeki is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and is a member of the Academia Europaea, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Salzburg), and a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society.

The formal award ceremony will be in September 2024 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Professor Zeki will share the stage with other newly-elected members which, this year, will include actor George Clooney, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and a host of leading figures from across the arts and sciences.

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