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Brief History of the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not for profit organization supported solely by philanthropic grants, donations and membership dues. Since its founding in 1817, the Academy has been committed to advancing science and technology for the benefit of society. As it continues into its third century, the Academy aims to leverage its stature as a preeminent institution of advanced learning by capitalizing on the breadth and depth of our global scientific network to shape the future of science.

Throughout its long history, the Academy has been recognized as a trusted and neutral institution working at the intersection of science and the public realm. Most recently, in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Academy provided important, unbiased scientific information on the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and the development of therapeutics and vaccines against the coronavirus, convening nearly 25 events in the first months of the pandemic. In so doing, the Academy built on a proud tradition of bringing together diverse, international stakeholders to address global issues as was done with antibiotics in 1946, AIDS in 1983, SARS in 2003, and H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009.

This tradition continues with many of the Academy's newest initiatives, including the International Science Reserve (ISR) - a global network of scientific experts committed to collaborating across borders to accelerate solutions to help mitigate global crises that may arise from another pandemic, a cyber-attack, or disasters associated with climate change. In the first year since its founding, more than 2000 scientists from 100 countries have joined the ISR community.

Looking Ahead...

The Academy is engaging even more deeply with a broad range of stakeholders and communities to help lead and shape public discourse about the role of science. The Fourth Industrial Revolution heralds an age of AI and big data, machine learning, quantum computing, CRISPR gene editing technologies, the cloning of human organs, and telemedicine to name but a few recent technological advances. With every new scientific breakthrough, there are risks to mitigate and wider social issues to debate - this is why the Academy is launching a series of Fellowships to provide thought leadership on these emerging scientific areas of interest. Fellowships are programs designed to attract talented international interdisciplinary scholars who are able to combine deep interest and expertise in science with a broad appreciation of the social, cultural, economic, and technological complexities of our world. These Fellows will add to and expand the existing intellectual assets at the Academy and provide further opportunities for the exchange of exciting new research and ideas from across the world.

The expansion of the Academy's programs and networks through the International Science Reserve, Fellowships, and other upcoming initiatives, is the extension of the Academy's traditional commitment to harness the power of science for shaping the world around us to the benefit of the public good. The Academy is a global hub for public deliberation and debate around both policy and perspective concerning the intersection of science and technology with society. Today, the Academy's network includes 36 Nobel Laureates, as well as CEOs, philanthropists, and leaders of national science funding agencies. With more than 16,000 members in over 100 countries, the Academy is proud to build on its legacy of delivering programs which exemplify the promise of scientific endeavor while actively expanding the ranks of those who have a seat at the table.

The Academy's Programs

Leveraging our global network and a multitude of partnerships with leading corporations and more than 75 universities, the Academy:

  • Nurtures and develops a new generation of multidisciplinary scholars who will inform the future use of AI for the benefit of humankind through the AI & Society post-doctoral fellowship program, inaugurated in 2023 in partnership with Arizona State University.
  • Promotes groundbreaking neuroscience research in the five boroughs of NYC through the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience, which support innovative young researchers at a critical stage of their careers—their postdoctoral research—as they develop the new ideas and directions that will help establish them as independent neuroscientists.
  • Discovers and celebrates the best and brightest up-and-coming scientists and engineers through Award programs. For over a decade, the Academy has been identifying and awarding the most promising young scientists first in the United States and subsequently in the United Kingdom and Israel. Prizes are awarded in the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Chemistry through the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists - a program many think of as "the Nobel Prize for young scientists." The Innovators in Science Award, sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, recognizes contributions of promising Early-Career Scientists and outstanding Senior Scientists to support their commitment to innovative research. The Academy's newest award program, the Tata Transformation Prize, launched in 2022 in conjunction with Tata Sons of India, supports breakthrough, innovative technologies that address India's greatest challenges in food security, sustainability, digital transformation and healthcare.
  • Develops and convenes 100+ conferences and symposia annually through Frontiers of Science. Topics include basic and applied research in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary fields and on the broader roles of science, technology, and culture in society. Each year, these events provide unique multidisciplinary networking and knowledge-building opportunities for over 14,000 participants, as well as hundreds of expert speakers.
  • Publishes the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, the oldest scientific serial publication in the United States. Annals is among the most cited of multidisciplinary scientific journals worldwide, and provides perspectives on leading research of widespread public interest.
  • Offers career development and training for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the sciences through its Science Alliance program, a consortium of 30+ academic and research institutions across the New York City tristate area.
  • Stewards the Global STEM Alliance (GSA), a network of more than 300 partner organizations dedicated to increasing the number and diversity of participants in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pipeline — regardless of gender, resources, or location. Through the GSA, the Academy operates a portfolio of exemplary STEM education initiatives that include teacher training; afterschool mentoring for low-income New York City public school students; 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, a program aimed at encouraging young female scientists; and virtual project-based learning programs for youth around the world — all with the purpose to inspire and prepare the next generations of global innovators.

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