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Two Weinberg College faculty elected to the American Philosophical Society

Chemist Tobin Marks and poet Natasha Trethewey are honored
Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the American Philosophical Society strives towards its goal of “promoting useful knowledge” by electing scholars, scientists and professionals who make great strides in their respective fields.

Two Northwestern University faculty members — chemist Tobin J. Marks and poet Natasha Trethewey — have been elected members of the American Philosophical Society in recognition of extraordinary accomplishments in their fields. 

Marks is being recognized in the mathematical and physical sciences class, and Trethewey is being recognized in the arts, professions, and leaders in public and private affairs class. They are among 29 resident members and eight international members elected this year to the prestigious society.

Marks is the Vladimir N. Ipatieff Professor of Catalytic Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He also is professor of materials science and engineering and professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering.

Trethewey is Board of Trustees Professor of English in Weinberg College. 

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the American Philosophical Society strives towards its goal of “promoting useful knowledge” by electing scholars, scientists and professionals who make great strides in their respective fields. The society has 1,012 living members and has elected only 5,783 members since 1743.

Tobin Marks

Tobin Marks is a world leader in the fields of organometallic chemistry, chemical catalysis, materials science, organic electronics, photovoltaics and nanotechnology. He has developed processes for numerous types of recyclable, environmentally friendly plastics, efficient organic displays and transistor circuitry, organic solar energy cells and pharmaceutical building blocks.

Tobin Marks
Tobin Marks

Marks designed a co-catalyst that led to what is now a standard process for producing cleaner, greener and more versatile polyolefins, including polyethylene and polypropylene, on a huge industrial scale. He also has developed catalytic processes for recycling these polyolefins.  Marks has pioneered advanced photovoltaic solar cells, composed of flexible, efficient, low-cost organic materials, as well as new materials for sensors and light modulators enabling high-speed optical data transmission and processing. His other achievements include high-performance printed transistors and light-emitting diodes based on organic materials (OLEDs).

Marks has received numerous national and international awards and honors during his career. These include the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology, the Prince of Asturias Prize in Advanced Materials, the Dreyfus Prize in Chemical Sciences, the American Chemical Society Priestley Medal and the U.S. National Medal of Science. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Leopoldina (the German National Academy of Sciences), the Lincei (the Italian National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Inventors. He is a Foreign Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences. 

Marks has authored more than 1,686 articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited six books. He holds 278 U.S. patents and is the founder of three startup companies, Polyera Inc., Flexterra Inc. and Penguin Chemicals Inc. Furthermore, Marks has mentored over 200 Ph.D. students and nearly as many postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars, with more than 150 now holding tenure-line academic positions across the globe.  

Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States. She is the author of five collections of poems, including “Native Guard,” for which she received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, and her most recent retrospective, “Monument: Poems New and Selected” (2018), winner of the 2020 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize in Poetry for Lifetime Achievement from the Library of Congress.

Natasha Tretheway
Natasha Trethewey

Of her work, 13th Librarian of Congress James H. Billington wrote: “Her poems dig beneath the surface of history — personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago — to explore the human struggles that we all face.” Trethewey’s memoir, “Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” became an instant New York Times bestseller upon release in 2020, and she is also the author of a book of nonfiction, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010). Her work has been translated into several languages, including Italian, French, Spanish, Polish and Chinese. 

Trethewey was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2019. Her recent honors include the 2017 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities and the 2022 Harold Washington Literary Award. In 2016 she was awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets. In the judge’s citation, Marilyn Nelson wrote: “The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”

Trethewey is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others, and is currently serving as the William B. Hart Poet-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome.