Spanos, Rosenthal elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

David Ruth

Jade Boyd

Rice’s Pol Spanos elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Rice Trustee and US District Judge Lee Rosenthal also elected to prestigious academy  

HOUSTON — (April 23, 2014) — Rice University dynamics expert Pol Spanos and U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, a member of the Rice Board of Trustees, have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), one of the nation’s foremost scholarly honors.

Founded in 1780, the academy is among the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the country. The society’s list of current and former members includes George Washington, Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan. The 2014 class of 204 new members includes Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dan Shechtman, actor Al Pacino, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, as well as winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of the Arts and Emmy and Grammy awards.

Pol Spanos

Spanos, Rice’s Lewis B. Ryon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is one of the world’s leading experts on the dynamics and vibrations of structural and mechanical systems.

“I’m very honored because this is one of the most prestigious groups in the country, and also, I am excited because this is a group where you have Nobel Prize winners in various sciences along with seminal artists,” said Spanos, who joined Rice’s faculty in 1984. “I love mathematics and poetry, which are similar in many respects, as well as the etymology of English words of Greek/Latin origin. And because I strive to be an engineer with, hopefully, a broad horizon, the potential of benefiting from the thematic richness of AAAS is truly enjoyable.”

Spanos’ research group specializes in creating sophisticated computational models that have been applied to diverse themes that include vehicle and robot dynamics; estimation of seismic spectra; flow-induced vibrations of offshore rigs, marine risers and pipelines; certification of payloads in space shuttle and space station missions; directional oil-well drilling; vibration and aseismic protection of structures and equipment; wind loads simulation; and signal processing for electrocardiograms, electroencephalograms and bone mechanics. He is also actively involved in forensic engineering.

Spanos has published more than 350 technical papers, authored or edited 18 books and supervised the theses of more than 75 master’s students and the dissertations of more than 55 doctoral students. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Europe, the National Academy of Greece and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His many honors include the ASME’s Richards Award and the ASCE’s Huber Prize, A.M. Freudenthal Medal, Newmark Medal and Theodore Von Karman Medal for lifetime contributions to engineering mechanics. He has twice received Rice’s George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching.

Lee Rosenthal

Rosenthal was elected to the Rice University Board of Trustees in 2008 and has served the Houston division of the Southern District of Texas since 1992.

“I am grateful for the honor and the opportunity to join the academy,” Rosenthal said. “The best part about it was telling the news to Professor Harold Hyman, former chair of the History Department at Rice — and my father. It made him a proud 90-year-old, and that made me very happy.”

Rosenthal is a past chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, to which she was appointed in 2007 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., and a past chair of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists has twice selected Rosenthal as trial judge of the year — in 2000 and 2006. She also has received the Houston Bar Association’s highest bar-poll evaluation for judges three times — in 1999, 2005 and 2007.

The academy’s new members will be inducted Oct. 11 at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass. A list of the new members is available at

Other members of the Rice faculty and administration who are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences include Bonnie Bartel, Bob Curl, Edward Djerejian, Naomi Halas, Randy Hulet, Neal Lane, Herbert Levine, John Mendelsohn, K.C. Nicolaou, Jose Onuchic, Richard Tapia, Ned Thomas, Moshe Vardi and Peter Wolynes. Former deans Michael Carroll and Jim Kinsey, Rice alumni Karen Davis and John Doerr, and Baker Institute for Public Policy Honorary Chairman and Founding Director James A. Baker III are also members.


IMAGES are available for download at:
CAPTION: Pol Spanos
CREDIT: Rice University
CAPTION: Lee Rosenthal
CREDIT: Rice University


About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.