5/04/2022 Peter Durantine

Leading Environmental Expert from F&M Elected to National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences recently elected Dorothy Merritts, the Harry W. and Mary B. Huffnagle Professor of Geoscience in Franklin & Marshall College’s Department of Earth and Environment.

Merritts is F&M’s first faculty member ever accepted into the ranks of the prestigious academy, a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars that was established in 1863 by an act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. On May 2, the academy elected 120 members and 30 international members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

  • Dorothy Merritts discusses the landscape at Big Spring Run as Robert Walter '75 works in the stream.

Merritts’ extensive research and knowledge includes streams, rivers, other landforms, and the impact of geologic processes, climate change, and human activities on the form and history of Earth's surface.  

Her primary research focus is the Appalachian mid-Atlantic region, where her groundbreaking investigative work demonstrated the role human activities have had in transforming the upland woodlands and valley bottom wetland meadows of eastern North America to a predominantly agricultural, industrial and urban landscape since European settlement. 

Her recent work encompasses the past 25,000 years of landscape change that documents  continuous permafrost was widespread in Pennsylvania and Maryland during the last full glacial episode.

Scientists are elected annually by peers to NAS membership for outstanding contributions to research. This year’s cohort brings the total number of active NAS members to 2,512 and the total number of international members to 517.  

Approximately 500 current and deceased NAS members have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research. 

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