New York Academy of Sciences
|Motto||Per terras, per celestis, per aerum, per maria (Latin)|
|Type||Non-profit Professional Society
(IRS exemption status): 501(c)(3)
|Purpose||Science, Education, and Public Policy|
|Headquarters||New York, NY, United States|
|Method||Donations and Grants|
|Ellis Rubinstein, current CEO and President
Eunice Miner, Executive Director, 1935-1967
Samuel L. Mitchill, founder
The New York Academy of Sciences (originally the Lyceum of Natural History) was founded in January 1817. It is one of the oldest scientific societies in the United States. An independent, non-profit organization with more than 20,000 members in 100 countries, the Academy’s mission is "to advance scientific research and knowledge; to support scientific literacy; and to promote the resolution of society's global challenges through science-based solutions." The current President and CEO is Ellis Rubinstein; the current chair of the board of governors of the Academy is Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, The State University of New York (SUNY).
Founded on January 29, 1817, the New York Academy of Sciences was originally called the Lyceum of Natural History. Convened by the Academy's founder and first President, Samuel L. Mitchill, the first meeting of the Lyceum took place at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, located on Barclay Street near Broadway in lower Manhattan. The principal activities of the early Lyceum focused on hosting lectures, collecting natural history specimens, and establishing a library. In 1823, the Lyceum began publishing its own scientific journal, then the Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York, now the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. By 1826 the Lyceum owned "the richest collection of reptiles and fish in the country," however a fire in 1866 destroyed the collection completely. Following the fire, the Academy turned its focus away from collecting and instead to research, scientific publishing, and disseminating scientific information.
From the outset, the New York Academy of Sciences membership was unique among scientific societies, with a democratic structure that allowed anyone to become a member, from laymen to respected professional scientists. For that reason, the membership has always included a mix of scientists, business people, academics, those working in government, and public citizens with an interest in science. Prominent members have included two United States Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as numerous well-known scientists such as Asa Gray (who served as the Superintendent of the Academy starting in 1836), John James Audubon, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, and Margaret Mead (who served for a time as the Vice President of the Academy). Prior to 1877, the Academy only admitted men, but on November 5, 1877, they elected Erminnie A. Smith the first female member. Membership has also included numerous Nobel Prize winners over the years.
The Academy has made significant contributions to the scientific community during the course of its history, including publishing one of the first studies on environmental pollution in 1876; conducting a scientific survey of Puerto Rico from 1907-1934; the first conference on antibiotics on 21 July 1948; hosting an important gathering and publishing the first volume on the cardiovascular effects of smoking in 1960; the founding of a Women in science Committee in 1977; the world’s first major scientific conference on AIDS in 1983; and a conference on SARS in 2003.
In 2006, the Academy moved into its current home on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Published since 1823, the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (first published as the Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York) is one of the oldest continuously published scientific serials in the United States.
The Sciences was a popular science magazine published by the Academy from 1961 to 2001. It worked to bridge the sciences and culture, winning seven National Magazine Awards during its history.
Human Rights of Scientists Award
The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists was created in 1978 to support and promote the human rights of scientists, health professionals, engineers, and educators around the world. The full name is "Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award", it is given to scientists for their contributions to safeguard or advance the human rights of scientists all across the world. It was retitled in 1986. Awardees have included: Andrei Sakharov (1979); Man-Yee Betty Tsang (2000); Óscar Elías Biscet (2008); and Kamiar and Arash Alaei (2009).
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- "For Science Academy, Move to World Trade Center Is Like Going Home," The New York Times, October 30, 2006
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