Bond elected to National Academy of Sciences

03 June 2013
International honour: Prof William Bond.
International honour: Prof William Bond.

William Bond, the Harry Bolus Professor of Botany in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been elected as a foreign associate of the United States' National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

Bond, an ecologist with an interest in the processes that control large-scale vegetation, is the fifth African scientist to have been elected to the academy. The NAS is an independent body of approximately 2 200 members and 400 foreign associates. Nearly 200 members of this prestigious body are Nobel laureates. Bond and his colleagues in South Africa and elsewhere have shown that wildfires are a major force in shaping global vegetation – and have been for many millions of years.

“African vegetation is particularly interesting and challenging to study because of the complex interplay between climate, fire, large mammal herbivores, people – and increasing CO2, the hidden hand of global change,” said the National Research Foundation A-rated researcher.

Established by an Act of Congress signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, NAS is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. It provides independent, objective advice on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership on the basis of their outstanding contributions to research.

Bond joins Professor Richard Cowling, a conservation biologist at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, as the only two current South African foreign associates of the NAS.

Africa (including Madagascar) has only four foreign associates. This year, Dr Meave Leakey from Kenya was also elected as an associate.

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