Rice’s Richards-Kortum elected to American Philosophical Society

David Ruth

Jade Boyd

Rice’s Richards-Kortum elected to American Philosophical Society

Global health pioneer joins former President Obama and 30 other new members

HOUSTON — (May 1, 2017) — Rice University bioengineer and global health pioneer Rebecca Richards-Kortum has been elected a member of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.

The society has 1,019 living members and has elected only 5,605 members since its founding by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. Members represent all fields of science, humanities and the arts. Other notable members include George Washington, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

The society announced 32 newly elected members this week, including former President Barack Obama and Kenyan paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey. Richards-Kortum is one of five newly elected members in the mathematical and physical sciences.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Richards-Kortum is Rice’s Malcolm Gillis University Professor, director of Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, professor of bioengineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering. She has been a member of Rice’s faculty since 2005.

“This was a huge and wonderful surprise,” Richards-Kortum said. “I feel so fortunate to have all the great support at Rice that made this possible.”

In March, Fortune magazine named Richards-Kortum to its prestigious list of World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In September, she became the first Houston scientist, the first Houston woman and the first Rice faculty member to win a coveted “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. In February, the foundation named her team a semifinalist for its 100&Change $100 million grant competition for its plan to end preventable newborn deaths in Africa within 10 years. She and her team plan to develop and implement Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies, or NEST, an integrated group of lifesaving neonatal technologies that could prevent 85 percent of the newborn deaths in Africa.

Richards-Kortum’s laboratory specializes in translating research in nanotechnology, molecular imaging and microfabrication to develop optical systems that are inexpensive, portable and capable of providing point-of-care diagnoses for diseases ranging from cancer to malaria. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Optical Society of America and the National Academy of Inventors.

For more information about the American Philosophical Society, visit www.amphilsoc.org.


VIDEOs about Rice 360°’s NEST:

Improving Newborn Survival in Africa: https://youtu.be/gQ-NIorX5DI

MacArthur 100&Change: Rice 360º: https://youtu.be/o_WJDA1EgT4

Additional VIDEOs about Rice 360° in Malawi:

A high-resolution IMAGE is available for download at:

CAPTION: Rebecca Richards-Kortum (Photo by Tommy LaVergne/Rice University)

MacArthur Foundation 100&Change home page: https://www.100andchange.org/

Rice 360°’s 100&Change: https://www.macfound.org/Rice360

Richards-Kortum, Oden, Palamountain: All babies deserve a chance to live — Houston Chronicle, Nov. 18, 2016

Rice 360°’s Neonatal Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST):

How good design can save 1 million babies per year — Rice Magazine, Winter 2017:

Rice 360° home page: http://www.rice360.rice.edu/

Related stories from Rice:

Rice 360° in running for $100 million MacArthur grant — Feb. 15, 2017

Rice’s Richards-Kortum named MacArthur Fellow — Sept. 22, 2016

Rice 360° wins key funding for low-cost syringe pump — Aug. 17, 2016

Rice, Malawi Polytechnic partner to create innovative technologies — April 7, 2015

UNICEF report features Rice’s Nursery of the Future — Nov. 19, 2014

Clinical study finds bubble CPAP boosts neonatal survival rates — Jan. 29, 2014

Prize will expand use of life-saving neonatal device in Africa — Nov. 14, 2013

Rice U. professors share Lemelson-MIT Award, donate prize money — May 1, 2013


Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.


About Jade Boyd

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