The New York Academy of Sciences

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The New York Academy of Sciences Careers, Pay and Expert Network

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The New York Academy of Sciences (originally the Lyceum of Natural History) was founded in January 1817. It is one of the oldest scientific societies in the United States. An independent, non-profit organization with more than 20,000 members in 100 countries, the Academy’s mission is "to advance scientific research and knowledge; to support scientific literacy; and to promote the resolution of societys global challenges through science-based solutions." The current President and CEO is Ellis Rubinstein; the current chair of the board of governors of the Academy is Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, The State University of New York (SUNY). Founded on January 29, 1817, the New York Academy of Sciences was originally called the Lyceum of Natural History. Convened by the Academys founder and first President, Samuel L. Mitchill, the first meeting of the Lyceum took place at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, located on Barclay Street near Broadway in lower Manhattan. The principal activities of the early Lyceum focused on hosting lectures, collecting natural history specimens, and establishing a library. In 1823, the Lyceum began publishing its own scientific journal, then the Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York, now the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. By 1826 the Lyceum owned "the richest collection of reptiles and fish in the country," however a fire in 1866 destroyed the collection completely. Following the fire, the Academy turned its focus away from collecting and instead to research, scientific publishing, and disseminating scientific information. From the outset, the New York Academy of Sciences membership was unique among scientific societies, with a democratic structure that allowed anyone to become a member, from laymen to respected professional scientists. For that reason, the membership has always included a mix of scientists, business people, academics, those working in government, and public citizens with an interest in science. Prominent members have included two United States Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as numerous well-known scientists such as Asa Gray (who served as the Superintendent of the Academy starting in 1836), John James Audubon, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, and Margaret Mead (who served for a time as the Vice President of the Academy). Prior to 1877, the Academy only admitted men, but on November 5, 1877, they elected Erminnie A. Smith the first female member. Membership has also included numerous Nobel Prize winners over the years.
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