Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- Astrophysicist Vicky Kalogera and anthropologist Christopher W. Kuzawa, faculty members in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States.

Kalogera, the Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Kuzawa, professor of anthropology, are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

New members will be inducted at the academy’s annual meeting next year.

Vicky Kalogera

Kalogera is the leading astrophysicist for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration (LSC). Gravitational waves were directly detected by LIGO for the first time Sept. 14, 2015, confirming a major prediction of Einstein’s theory of relativity and launching a new field in astronomy.

An expert in black hole formation in binary systems and in LIGO data analysis, Kalogera has been an LSC member for more than 15 years.

Last year, Kalogera was one of four Northwestern astronomy faculty who collaborated with international researchers to detect the spectacular collision of two neutron stars using both gravitational waves and light. Kalogera also has made leading contributions to the detection and astrophysical interpretation of collisions of black holes detected with gravitational waves alone.

Kalogera’s research interests are in the astrophysics of compact objects, specifically white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. She has expanded into projects in gravitational-wave data analysis and astrophysical modeling involving methods from applied mathematics, statistics and computer science, with extensive use of high-performance computing.

Kalogera is a co-founder and the current director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics), an endowed research center at Northwestern focused on advancing astrophysics studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinary connections.

Christopher Kuzawa

Kuzawa, a fellow at the University’s Institute for Policy Research and a founding member of Cells 2 Society, Northwestern’s interdisciplinary center for the study of health disparities, uses principles from anthropology and evolutionary biology to gain insights into the biological and health impacts of human developmental plasticity. 

As a biological anthropologist with training in epidemiology, Kuzawa focuses on the roles intrauterine and early postnatal environments have on development and long-term health. This work shows that when women experience nutritional or psychosocial stress during or prior to pregnancy, it can have durable effects on the biology and health of her offspring, including risk for hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. An important message of the work is that today’s social inequalities can contribute to health inequality in future generations.

Kuzawa’s primary field research is conducted in Cebu, the Philippines, where he works with a large birth cohort study that enrolled more than 3,000 pregnant women in 1983 and has since followed their offspring into adulthood (now 35 years old). The study has recently begun following the third (grandoffspring) generation.

He, his students and collaborators use the 35 years of data available for each study participant to gain a better understanding of the long-term and intergenerational impacts of early life environments on adult biology, reproduction and health.

Kuzawa’s other projects include a long-running study of the psychobiology of social relationships and fatherhood, studies of genetics, epigenetics and molecular biology, and the evolution and development of the human brain.

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