Margaret Palmer Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Her election brings the number of CMNS faculty members in the Academy to 16.

University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor Margaret Palmer has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. Palmer is among the 250 new members elected in 2024 for their accomplishments in academia, business, government and public affairs.

Margaret Palmer headshot
Margaret Palmer. Photo courtesy of same.

“Margaret Palmer's election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences is a richly deserved honor," said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. "Her unwavering commitment to both academic excellence and real-world impact is truly inspiring. The University of Maryland is incredibly fortunate to count her among our faculty.”

Palmer, who joined UMD in 1987, is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Entomology and director of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), which is dedicated to creating actionable sustainability science.

“I am honored to have received this award,” Palmer said.

Palmer’s research focuses on watershed science and restoration ecology. Palmer is also known for her work at the interface of water science and policy, having served as a technical advisor and innovator to help build solution-focused teams that solve problems with social, legal, policy and scientific aspects. She also engages in science matters associated with water policies and actions, particularly associated with the U.S. Appalachians. 

“We are so proud to see Margaret Palmer recognized for her pioneering work on watershed science and restoration ecology,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “Her decades of dedicated research, teaching and service have been key to the college and university's successes.”

Awarded more than $50 million in support from the National Science Foundation to establish SESYNC, Palmer spearheaded innovative interdisciplinary programs and practices for teams of researchers from all over the world. The center is widely known for creating research communities and cultures that other centers around the world seek to emulate. It offers vast open-access resources to support teaching and research at the interface of environmental and social systems.

“We are thrilled for Margaret as a recipient of this incredibly prestigious award,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean of UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Her career has been marked with numerous high-profile honors, and this will add to her reputation as one of the premiere scientists and innovators of our time.”

Palmer is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ecological Society of America and an honorary member of the British Ecological Society. She has also received the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, Lilly Fellowship, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Ruth Patrick Award, Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award, Society for Freshwater Science Research Excellence Award and Helmholtz International Fellow Award. 

She has published more than 185 peer-reviewed journal articles, served on numerous editorial boards, and mentored more than 50 students and postdocs at UMD.

Palmer earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Emory University in 1977 and her master’s and Ph.D. in coastal oceanography from the University of South Carolina in 1979 and 1983, respectively.

Her election brings the number of CMNS faculty members who are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to 16. 

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. According to the Academy, its dual mission remains essentially the same with honorees drawn from increasingly diverse fields and whose work focuses on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.