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Two Professors Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins, Geologist Richard Walker to Be Inducted for Research Into Inequality, Early Solar System

By Laura Ours By Abby Robinson

Testudo statue

Two UMD professors—Richard Walker of the Department of Geology and Patricia Hill Collins of the Department of Sociology—were elected to National Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other luminaries of the early days of the United States.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Two University of Maryland professors will join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

Patricia Hill Collins, Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Sociology, and Richard Walker, a Distinguished University Professor of Geology, are among the 242-year-old academy’s 261 new members from academia, business, government and public affairs. Their election brings the total number of UMD faculty who are members of national academies to 60, including 23 in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“Dr. Collins is one of the leading scholars on issues related to race and gender inequalities and has won many awards over a long and productive academic career, demonstrating the profile of an internationally acclaimed sociologist,” said Interim Dean Wayne McIntosh of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “To be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a very fitting capstone.”

Patricia Hill Collins headshot

Collins was recognized for her work as a social theorist whose research and scholarship examine race, gender, social class, sexuality and nationality. She is the author of numerous foundational articles and books, including the monograph “Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment,” which won the Jessie Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. A 30th anniversary edition will be published this month.

A forthcoming book, “Lethal Intersections: Race, Gender and Violence,” brings together perspectives of activists, artists, scholars and policymakers combatting the pressing social problem of violence.

Collins has taught at several institutions, held editorial positions with professional journals, lectured widely in the United States and abroad and served in many capacities in professional organizations and as a consultant for businesses and community organizations. Collins came to the University of Maryland in 2005. In 2008, she became the 100th president of the ASA, and the first African American woman to lead the organization.

In addition to her service to UMD, Collins holds an appointment as the Charles Phelps Taft Emeritus Professor of Sociology in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Brandeis University, and her master’s degree at Harvard University.

Richard Walker headshot

Walker was recognized by the academy for his discoveries on the origin and evolution of early solar system materials and the geochemical evolution of the Earth.

“We’re extremely proud of this honor bestowed upon Dr. Walker,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). “He has been at the forefront of his field for decades and is most deserving of this most prestigious recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.”

Walker’s primary research focus is the study of siderophile, or “iron-loving” elements, which are largely concentrated in planetary cores. He has published more than 200 articles and book chapters, and he has advised and mentored dozens of undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students, and junior faculty members.

Walker joined UMD in 1990 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and to professor in 1998. He served as chair of UMD’s Department of Geology from 2016 to 2021.

Walker received UMD’s Kirwan Faculty Research and Scholarship Prize and was the first recipient of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences Board of Visitors Distinguished Faculty Award in 2005. He was awarded the Geochemical Society Clarke Medal in 1990.

Walker is a fellow of the Geochemical Society, European Association of Geochemistry and the American Geophysical Union. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from the College of William and Mary and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in geology from State University of New York at Stony Brook. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Oulu University, Finland.

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