Joan Sylvia Lyttle Birman '48, professor emeritus in Barnard's department of mathematics, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A highly accomplished mathematician, Prof. Birman's research focuses on knots, braids, 3-manifolds, and mapping class groups of surfaces as well as related topics in geometric group theory, algorithms, contact geometry, and dynamical systems. She will be inducted at a ceremony on October 6, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with other newly-elected members who include of leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts.

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including 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. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. Barnard President Debora Spar is also a member.

View the full list of 2012 Class New Members on the AAAS website.