News Release

Peter Ungar chosen as Member of the National Academy of Sciences

A distinguished professor of anthropology and director of environmental dynamics, Ungar is the first U of A faculty member to be elected to the prestigious Academy

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Arkansas

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Peter Ungar, University of Arkansas

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Credit: University of Arkansas

Distinguished Professor Peter Ungar has been chosen as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the first faculty member from the University of Arkansas to be elected to the prestigious organization.

The Academy announced 120 new members and 24 new international members Tuesday, bringing the total active membership to only 3,154 scholars. The new members were recognized for their “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” They are now part of an organization that was founded more than 160 years ago by President Abraham Lincoln and scientist Alexander Dallas Bache.

Ungar is known internationally for his work reconstructing past diet and environment based on the examination of fossil teeth. He has spent thousands of hours observing wild apes and other primates in the forests of Latin America and Indonesia. Ungar also developed new techniques for using surface analysis technologies to glean information about ecology and evolution from tooth shape and patterns of use wear. More recently, his research has focused on using tools developed for analyzing fossil teeth to study impacts of climate change on the ecology of Arctic mammals and to document and monitor dental pathologies in a clinical setting.  

Ungar has authored or coauthored 230 scientific works on ecology and evolution for journals, books and other media. His research has been published in ScienceNatureProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesScientific American, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

He has edited or co-edited three volumes on ecology and evolution. His book, Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, won the PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers for best book in the biological sciences. His popular science titles include Teeth: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) and Evolution’s Bite (Princeton University Press).

Peter Ungar received his Ph.D. in anthropological sciences from Stony Brook University and joined the U of A faculty in 1995. He currently serves as director of the graduate programs in environmental dynamics.

Ungar is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the Academy provides independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Approximately 500 current and deceased members of the Academy have won Nobel Prizes.

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