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Three Stanford scholars elected to the American Philosophical Society

Karl Deisseroth, Chris Field, and Tanya Marie Luhrmann are among 37 scholars elected to the oldest learned society in the United States.

Three Stanford scholars have been elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” the American Philosophical Society is composed of scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines. and has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life.

Among the 37 scholars elected to the 2022 class of the American Philosophical Society are:

Karl Deisseroth (Image credit: Jim Gensheimer)

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, the D.H. Chen Professor, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and the director of undergraduate education in bioengineering. He is one of the developers of optogenetics, a technique that uses light to control the behavior of cells. He established his preeminence as a leader in neuroscience by developing a process to insert microbial proteins called opsins into mammalian brain cells, allowing them to be controlled by light.

Deisseroth and his colleagues used optogenetics to examine several brain disorders including depression and Parkinson’s disease and were able to reverse Parkinson’s symptoms in mice. After discovering a brain circuit that controls mammals’ desire to interact socially, he and his team used optogenetic techniques to trigger or inhibit social interactions between female mice. Deisseroth and his team have also perfected methods of controlling the behavior of ensembles of specified individual neurons.

Chris Field (Image credit: Paul Sakuma/Courtesy of Stanford Woods Institute)

Chris Field is the Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, a professor of biology, the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences, a professor of Earth system science in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and a senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy.

Field’s research focuses on climate change, especially solutions that improve lives now, decrease the amount of future warming, and support vibrant economies. His recent projects emphasize decreasing risks from coastal flooding and wildfires. He has been deeply involved with national and international efforts to advance understanding of global ecology and climate change. Field was co-chair of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2008-2015), where he led the effort on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (2012), and Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (2014).

Tanya Marie Luhrmann (Image credit: Nikki Ross-Zehnder)

Tanya Marie Luhrmann, the Albert Ray Lang Professor in the Department of Anthropology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is a medical and psychological anthropologist and an anthropologist of religion. The focus of Luhrmann’s research is how people represent thought, and how these representations can affect what people sense and take to be real. Her studies use ethnographic and experimental methods to better understand unusual sensory experiences, such as voices, visions, supernatural occurrences, and psychosis. The findings of her studies reveal how certain sensory experiences are influenced by our ideas about the mind and each other, and can, ultimately, be used to help people whose sensory experiences are distressing.

Luhrmann has done ethnography on the streets of Chicago with homeless and psychotic women, and worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, Accra, and the South Bay. She has also done fieldwork with evangelical Christians who seek to hear God speak back, with Zoroastrians who set out to create a more mystical faith, and with people who practice magic.