May 23, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 18

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    Philosophical Society elects Doniger and Simpson

    Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Professor in the Divinity School, and John Simpson, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics, were elected members of the American Philosophical Society at the society's annual meeting.

    They are among 39 scholars to be elected this year to the society, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 and is the oldest learned society in the United States. The society currently has 723 elected members, including 24 University faculty members. Since 1901, 226 members have received the Nobel Prize.

    An expert on Hindu mythology and a Sanskrit scholar, Doniger specializes in the culture of South Asia. Her teaching and research address themes from a cross-cultural perspective, ranging from ancient India and Greece to the American cinema.

    Doniger is the editor of the English-language version of Yves Bonnefoy's Mythologies, a comprehensive encyclopedia of world mythologies. To produce this text, she spent 10 years guiding a dozen graduate students and professional translators through 2,000 pages of 395 original essays by 100 French scholars.

    Doniger joined the Chicago faculty in 1978.

    Simpson, recognized as a world leader in cosmic-ray astrophysics, has supervised the design, construction and operation of more than 35 space experiments -- including nine spaceprobe encounters with planets and two with comets.

    One of his most recent cosmic-ray experiments was aboard the spacecraft Ulysses when it made its historic climb over the south pole of the sun in 1994. Because cosmic rays are deflected by magnetic fields, scientists have been unable to tell where they originate. Simpson said Ulysses' voyage over the sun's pole offered a unique opportunity to detect the nuclear composition of the cosmic rays as they streamed in from outer space.

    Simpson has been at the University since 1943 and a Distinguished Service Professor since 1968.