Vicki Ruiz, UC Irvine dean of humanities and professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies, and Steven A. Frank, UCI professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, have been named 2012 fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The UCI faculty members are among 220 new fellows and 17 new foreign honorary members elected this year to AAAS. Joining Ruiz and Frank as members of the prestigious organization are film icon Clint Eastwood, Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos and philanthropist Melinda F. Gates.

The 232-year-old academy is one of the nations most select societies and includes scholars, scientists and business people. Fellows and foreign honorary members are nominated and elected by current members.

Ruiz helped establish the field of Chicano/Latino studies with her research on Mexican-American women in the U.S. Southwest. She’s a major contributor to study in the history of labor, women, immigration and the American West. A native of Florida, her past honors include a presidential nomination to the National Council on the Humanities and Latina magazine’s “Woman of the Year” award in 2000. In 2006, she co-edited Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. The three-volume set with more than 600 entries and 300 photographs documents contributions by women of Latin American birth or heritage to the economic and cultural development of the U.S. It is the first comprehensive gathering of scholarship on Latinas.

Ruiz joined the UCI faculty in 2001 and was named dean of humanities in 2008. She is a fellow of the Society of American Historians and a member of the national advisory board for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Frank studies the immunology and evolution of infectious diseases and mathematical models of cancer development. His 2007 book, Dynamics of Cancer: Incidence, Inheritance and Evolution, was the first comprehensive analysis of the genetic and environmental influences on age of cancer onset. His research addresses such questions as: Why does cancer occur more often as people grow older? Why do certain cancers happen mostly in children? Why do inherited mutations shift cancer onset to earlier ages?

Frank was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009 and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995. In 2006, he and a team of evolutionary biologists received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop computer-based simulations of pandemic flu and other infectious disease outbreaks. They aim to help officials better understand how to prepare for and contain the spread of such diseases.

His other research interests include population genetics, the history of evolutionary theory, and evolutionary aspects of adaptation and development. Frank joined the UCI faculty in 1989.

The new fellows will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 6 at the academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

Since its founding in 1780, the academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

With this year’s announcement there are 34 AAAS members affiliated with UCI including: John Avise, Francisco Ayala, Albert Bennett, Roy Britten, Thomas Carew,  Ralph J. Cicerone (chancellor emeritus), Michael Clegg, William Daughaday, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, Igor Dzyaloshinskii, David Easton, Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, Zachary Fisk, Bernard Grofman, Daniel D. Joseph, Peter Li, Elizabeth Loftus, R. Duncan Luce, Penelope Maddy, David Malament, James McGaugh, Ricardo Miledi, J. Hillis Miller, Larry Overman, J.W. Peltason, Kenneth L. Pomeranz, Yvonne Rainer, A. Kimball Romney, Donald Saari, Brian Skyrms, Colin Slim and George Sperling.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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