Astronomer Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Other new members of the class of 2020 include singer Joan Baez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and poet and playwright Claudia Rankine

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (Photo by Elena Zhukova)

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

Ramirez-Ruiz, who holds the Vera Rubin Presidential Chair for Diversity in Astronomy, was among 276 new members of the academy announced this week, including singer Joan Baez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, filmmaker Richard Linklater, and poet and playwright Claudia Rankine. Ramirez-Ruiz joins 24 other UCSC faculty who are fellows of the academy.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists, and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world.

A theoretical astrophysicist, Ramirez-Ruiz is a leading authority on some of the most dramatic events in the universe, such as collisions, mergers, and disruptions of stars—especially those involving compact objects like black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs. Using computer simulations to explore these transient phenomena, his research addresses fundamental questions in high-energy astrophysics and provides a framework for understanding the observational data coming from new telescopes, gravitational wave detectors, and astronomical surveys.

Ramirez-Ruiz has also worked vigorously to support the promotion and retention of women and people from under-represented groups in astronomy and related fields. He established and directs the Lamat program, which gives undergraduate students, mostly from historically marginalized groups, the opportunity to work with UCSC faculty and graduate students on research projects using some of the world’s most advanced computers.

The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and courtrooms,” said Academy President David Oxtoby. “With today’s election announcement, these new members are united by a place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the academy’s work to advance the public good.”

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is both an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to address significant challenges. Current members represent today’s innovative thinkers in every field and profession, including more than two hundred and fifty Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

An induction ceremony for the new members is currently scheduled for October 2020. A complete listing of the new members elected in 2020 is available at