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Bioengineering professor and global health leader elected to prestigious academy

Rice University bioengineer and global health leader Rebecca Richards-Kortum has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s foremost scholarly honors.

Founded in 1780, the academy is among the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the country. The society’s list of current and former members includes John Adams, John James Audubon and Albert Einstein. The 2015 class of 197 new members includes noted HIV researcher James Curran, actor Christopher Plummer, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, as well as winners of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.

Richards-Kortum is Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies.

“It is such an honor to be included as part of this accomplished group,” said Richards-Kortum, who joined Rice’s faculty in 2005. “I am extraordinarily grateful to everyone who has helped me over the years, including my students, colleagues and mentors. This recognition is as much theirs as mine.”

For two decades, Richards-Kortum has focused on translating research in nanotechnology, molecular imaging and microfabrication to develop optical imaging systems that are inexpensive, portable and provide point-of-care diagnoses for diseases ranging from cancer to malaria. Her research has produced 29 patents, more than 230 research papers, 11 book chapters and the textbook Biomedical Engineering for Global Health.

She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering for the National Institutes of Health. Richards-Kortum also is a fellow of the Optical Society of America, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the National Academy of Inventors.

Her many awards and honors include the 2013 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, the 2014 Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award from the Optical Society of America, Rice’s George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching and the 2007 Chester F. Carlson Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. She was named a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2002 and 2006.

The academy’s new members will be inducted Oct. 10 at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.

Including Richards-Kortum, 16 current or emeritus faculty at Rice are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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