Four professors from the University of California, Davis, have been elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Established in 1780, the academy includes Americans with accomplishments in a wide range of fields, including scientists, artists, performers, poets and political leaders.
The newly elected members from the College of Letters and Science are: Robert Feenstra, Department of Economics; Andrés Reséndez, Department of History; and Geerat Vermeij, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The fourth honoree is Jodi Nunnari, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Feenstra, the C. Bryan Cameron Distinguished Chair in International Economics at UC Davis, is known for transforming the academic field of international trade from primarily theoretical into a fully data-driven science. He recently teamed up with international colleagues to modernize the iconic Penn World Tables (formerly of University of Pennsylvania), into what is now known as the Penn World Tables at UC Davis and University of Groningen. The transformation of these tables, described in the top academic journal in the field, enables researchers in international finance and trade to make more accurate cross-country comparisons of nations’ costs of living, or gross domestic product, over time and to better analyze global growth.
He established the economics department’s Center for International Data, which collects, enhances, creates and disseminates international economic data. Feenstra has published over 100 articles on international trade, as well as 15 books, including a highly used textbook for undergraduate economics co-authored with department colleague Alan M. Taylor. He also authored what has become the quintessential textbook on international trade used by graduate programs throughout the world. He is a beloved and trusted advisor to students, many who now have academic posts at prestigious universities throughout the world, including China.
Reséndez, professor of history, specializes in colonial Latin America, borderlands and the Iberian world. His book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (2016), won the Bancroft Prize and the California Book Award for nonfiction. It details the imprisonment, trafficking and abuse of hundreds of thousands of Indians in North America from the time of Columbus to the late 1800s and how the Native American population was decimated. He is also the author of A Land So Strange (2007) and Changing National Identities at the Frontier (2005).
He has more recently focused on pioneering voyages across the Pacific Ocean, beginning with the first expedition that went from America to Asia and back (1564-1565), transforming the Pacific into a space of contact and exchange (Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery (2021). In 2020, he was awarded a Carnegie fellowship.
Vermeij, distinguished professor of earth and planetary sciences, is a paleobiologist interested in how predators and prey evolve together, especially among marine mollusks, and in how evolution, ecology and morphology interact.
Vermeij has more than 200 publications, including five published books. In his book, Nature and Economic History, he tackles the subject of economics and evolution, drawing close comparisons between the principles of economics and the principles of evolution, and ties both to major trends in the history of life and the history of humanity.
Vermeij graduated from Princeton University and earned his doctoral degree from Yale University. During his career, he has received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the California Academy of Sciences.
They join 15 other College of Letters and Science faculty members who are in the academy. See a list here.