Renu Malhotra, a professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences — the second honor for her in less than a week.
On Tuesday, the academy announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Those elected bring the number of active members to 2,250 and the number of foreign associates to 452. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States.
The academy is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership and provides science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.
Last Friday, Malhotra was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of a new class of accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, business and philanthropic leaders.
Malhotra, who joined the UA faculty in 2000, serves as chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program in the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences. The interdisciplinary program was established in 1985 to foster scientific and academic links among the physics, astronomy and planetary sciences departments, as well as the Applied Mathematics Program and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
Malhotra's work in planetary dynamics has spanned a wide variety of topics, including extrasolar planets and debris disks around stars, the formation and evolution of the Kuiper belt and the asteroid belt, the orbital resonances among the moons of the giant planets, and the meteoritic bombardment history of the planets. She has revolutionized the understanding of the history of the solar system by using the orbital resonance between Pluto and Neptune to infer large-scale orbital migration of the giant planets and to predict the existence of the "Plutinos" and other small planets in resonance with Neptune. She also has received honors and awards from the UA, the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.