Howard University Mechanical Engineering Professor Receives a Distinguished Honor from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dr. Nadir Yilmaz

From The Dig:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently announced its distinguished 2023 Class of AAAS fellows, which includes two Howard University professors -- Janelle BurkePh.D. and Nadir YilmazPh.D. -- among the list of 502 scientists, engineers, and innovators.

Both professors will now be lifetime members of the AAAS Fellows program, joining the ranks of notable fellows Mae Jemison, the first Black woman astronaut; W.E.B. Dubois, the famed Pan-Africanist considered the father of American sociology; and Alondra Nelson, the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and a former deputy assistant to President Joseph R. Biden.

As AAAS announced their newest class of STEM experts from around the world, the organization is celebrating the fellow program’s 150th anniversary.

“On behalf of the Howard University community, I want to extend hearty congratulations to both Dr. Burke and Dr. Yilmaz on their well-earned designation as AAAS fellows,” said Howard University president Ben Vinson III, Ph.D. “Their selection to this esteemed organization speaks volumes about the caliber of our faculty, and their contributions to academic excellence in our strides our institution is making toward R1 status.”

In a statement from AAAS, Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, said this class is at the forefront of their respective fields and among the world’s best and brightest thought leaders and innovators.

“This year’s class embodies scientific excellence, fosters trust in science throughout the communities they serve, and leads the next generation of scientists while advancing scientific achievements,” Parikh said.

A plant evolutionary biologist, Janelle Burke, Ph.D., has been with Howard University for 11 years. Burke, who has described 14 new species of plants over her career, is currently the interim chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Earth, Environment and Equity Department. Since 2016, she has been diligently working to establish the department, which the University will officially open on July 1, 2024, offering bachelor's degrees in environmental studies, environmental science, and atmospheric science.

Burke’s work to increase diversity in STEM, particularly environmental justice, is a main reason she was nominated for election into the AAAS Fellows program.

“A lot of our STEM fields, particularly geo sciences like earth science, environmental science and atmospheric science, have the lowest representation of Black Americans,” said Burke, who credits Howard University with giving her opportunities to collaborate with colleagues to develop innovative, interdisciplinary programming for students.

“The work we’ve done to establish the Department of Earth, Environment and Equity is really about training future environmental leaders from diverse backgrounds,” Burke added.

“But we’re also clear that we want to provide students with rigorous scientific training through the lens of service to support underrepresented communities. This is internationally recognized work that AAAS believes in, and I applaud them for recognizing that this work is done at HBCUs in general and Howard University specifically.”

Nadir Yilmaz, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering professor and department chair with the College of Engineering and Architecture, is recognized by AAAS for his distinguished contributions to alternative fuels and emission control strategies, impactful leadership in professional societies, and excellence in engineering education with emphasis on underrepresented minorities.

A leading scientist and author, who also serves as the editor-in-chief for the SAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants and as a member of the editorial board of numerous international journals, Yilmaz has been a member of the University’s faculty since 2017. Like Burke, Yilmaz believes the AAAS Fellows selection is a testament to the work he does to diversify a field that has traditionally been underrepresented by certain communities.

“I am committed to educating and mentoring students from historically underrepresented groups while continuing efforts to close inequality gaps and advance the promise of the scientific workforce moving into the future,” said Yilmaz, who is also a fellow member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

“The AAAS Fellows is a great honor and I’m proud to join such a distinguished group and do so while representing Howard University and all of its work to educate future leaders,” he added.

Dating back to 1874, the AAAS identifies a select group of members worldwide and across various disciplines to become AAAS. fellows. Elected by the AAAS Council, fellows are publicly acknowledged for their meritorious contribution to the advancement of science with a certificate and blue and gold rosette at the ceremonial Fellows Forum held at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

This year, the AAAS will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its fellows program in September with a gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.


Research, College of Engineering and Architecture and Mechanical Engineering