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Two Howard University Professors Receive a Distinguished Honor from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Professors Janelle Burke and Nadir Yilmaz are among 502 scientists from around the world bestowed with this lifetime honor.

by Monica Lewis (BA ’94)
AAAS fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently announced its distinguished 2023 Class of AAAS fellows, which includes two Howard University professors – Janelle Burke, PhD and Nadir Yilmaz, PhD – among the list of 502 scientists, engineers, and innovators.

Both professors will now be lifetime members of the AAAS Fellows program, joining the ranks of notable fellows Mae Jemison, the first Black woman astronaut; W.E.B. Dubois, the famed Pan-Africanist considered the father of American sociology; and Alondra Nelson, the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and a former deputy assistant to President Joseph R. Biden.

A plant evolutionary biologist, Janelle Burke, Ph.D., has been with Howard University for 11 years. Burke, who has described 14 new species of plants over her career, is currently the interim chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Earth, Environment and Equity Department. Since 2016, she has been diligently working to establish the department, which the University will officially open on July 1, 2024, offering bachelor's degrees in environmental studies, environmental science, and atmospheric science.

Burke’s work to increase diversity in STEM, particularly environmental justice, is a main reason she was nominated for election into the AAAS Fellows program.

Nadir Yilmaz, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering professor and department chair with the College of Engineering and Architecture, is recognized by AAAS for his distinguished contributions to alternative fuels and emission control strategies, impactful leadership in professional societies, and excellence in engineering education with emphasis on underrepresented minorities.

A leading scientist and author, who also serves as the editor-in-chief for the SAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants and as a member of the editorial board of numerous international journals, Yilmaz has been a member of the University’s faculty since 2017. Like Burke, Yilmaz believes the AAAS Fellows selection is a testament to the work he does to diversify a field that has traditionally been underrepresented by certain communities.

Yilmaz is also a fellow member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Dating back to 1874, the AAAS identifies a select group of members worldwide and across various disciplines to become AAAS. fellows. Elected by the AAAS Council, fellows are publicly acknowledged for their meritorious contribution to the advancement of science with a certificate and blue and gold rosette at the ceremonial Fellows Forum held at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

This year, the AAAS will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its fellows program in September with a gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

This story appears in the Spring/ Summer 2024 issue.
Article ID: 2086

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