Prof Rashid Mekki Hassan received one of the highest honours in science by being elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS). On 30th April, the NAS announced the election of 100 new members and 25 foreign associates in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Prof Hassan was among the 25 foreign associates elected.
Membership in the NAS is rare; with only 487 foreign associates currently active. NAS members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Reacting to his election, Hassan shared that, “It is certainly a big honour because it is coming from an esteemed institution that is well recognised with high credibility in the world of scientific research.” He joins the likes of Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell as former members of the association.
Hassan expressed that this nomination increases recognition of the contributions of social science and African institutions. Of the foreign associates who are active members, approximately 60 are from the social sciences fields, and only six represent African institutions. Two associates come from South Africa, with Hassan being the first foreign associate to be elected from the University of Pretoria.
This selection is an honour for the University of Pretoria as Hassan serves with scientists from some of the world’s highest ranked universities including Harvard, Cambridge, ETH Zurich and Stanford universities.
Hassan is a Professor Emeritus with the Department of Agriculture Economics, Extension and Rural Development, University of Pretoria. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a doctorate in Economics and has worked at the University of Pretoria since 1997.
Formerly the Founding Director of the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA), Hassan’s research focus is on natural resource and environmental economics, agricultural economics, and optimisation and modelling of economic systems.
Amongst his many international roles, he has served as a member of many international and national boards and science councils including the UN CFS High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Climate Change, the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP), the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Consultative Group for International Agric. Research (CGIAR), Stockholm Environment Institute, and the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa Board. His participation in these and several other capacities has contributed to informing key global environmental and development initiatives and processes, particularly in advancing the sustainable development agenda.
Established in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, the NAS works together with the National Academies of Engineering and Medicine to provide independent and objective analysis and advice to the US government. The NAS also informs public policy. These National Academies are so vital that the US Congress and White House have issued legislation to cement their role.