Election to the National Academy represents the summit of career achievements for scientists and engineers in the United States, and only a small fraction of working scientists are elected to the group. Although anyone can suggest a name for membership, formal proposals for nomination must come from members of the Academy. New members and foreign associates are elected annually at the Academy's meeting in April.
Bennetzen is the first UGA faculty member named to the NAS since Susan Wessler was elected in 1998. Bennetzen joins a small group of scientists at UGA who are members of the NAS. The members at UGA are Wyatt Anderson, John Avise and Norman Giles (now retired), genetics; Norman Allinger, chemistry; Brent Berlin, anthropology; and Glenn Burton, agronomy. The late Eugene Odum of ecology and Lois Miller of the departments of entomology and genetics were also members.
"Jeff Bennetzen's election not only is a testament to the quality of the University of Georgia faculty but demonstrates once again the vitality of the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar program," said President Michael F. Adams. "I congratulate Jeff who has been at the university less than a year and appreciate the efforts of the GRA, which was of great assistance in his recruitment."
"It's a great pleasure to be elected to the Academy by my fellow scientists," said Bennetzen. "The students and other colleagues in my laboratory over the years deserve to share in this honor, as their inspiration and hard work were largely responsible for what we have accomplished."