Composite image of ryan wyatt, left, and peter roopnarine, right, both standing with arms folded and smiling.

Planetarium Director Ryan Wyatt (left) and Geologist Peter Roopnarine (right) were honored by AAAS for their scientific achievements across disciplines. Kathryn Whitney © 2019 California Academy of Sciences


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 18, 2024) — The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that Curator of Geology Peter Roopnarine, PhD, and Morrison Planetarium Senior Director Ryan Wyatt have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This honor recognizes Roopnarine and Wyatt’s achievements across disciplines, ranging from advocacy and research contributions to education and scientific communication.

Roopnarine, a transdisciplinary scholar with an interest in the evolution of ecological systems, was honored for his academic and public contributions to our understanding of paleontology, deep time, and his perspectives on complexity dynamics that chronicle the past, present, and future of the natural world. Roopnarine recently co-authored an article outlining how a now-extinct mammal helped maintain healthy kelp forests, with valuable implications that could inform conservation efforts today.

"The AAAS and its journals have long stood as the gold standard for good science, both in the United States and globally, and it is an honor to be recognized by my peers for the work that I have been engaged in for many years,” Roopnarine said. “I have been fortunate to have had many outstanding teachers, mentors, colleagues, and students over the years, and I am thankful to the California Academy of Sciences for its continuing support of fundamental research in the earth and life sciences, and the efforts of myself and colleagues to engage with our society."

AAAS nominated Wyatt, an expert in science visualization, for his contributions to education and public engagement through his work on planetarium documentaries, programming, and immersive digital experiences. Wyatt oversees the largest all-digital fulldome planetarium in the world and leads a team that uses real data and revolutionary technologies to transport audiences through space and time at Morrison Planetarium’s award-winning shows.

“I am delighted to accept this recognition on the basis of my own work—but also on behalf of the many talented collaborators I have had in my career. The type of cinematic scientific visualization that I work on can only happen through the efforts of a diverse and talented team,” Wyatt said. “I firmly believe that immersive visualization has the potential to create truly transformative experiences and am grateful that AAAS recognizes planetariums as critically important tools for science education.”

AAAS has elected an annual cohort of fellows each year since 1874, making this year the 150th anniversary of the program. Their list of alumni includes notable scientists such as American inventor Thomas Edison, sociologist W.E.B. DuBois, engineer-astronaut Mae Jemison, and pioneering software developer Grace Hopper. Academy Curator of Ichthyology Luiz Rocha was elected an AAAS Fellow in 2022.

AAAS Fellows are elected by a steering committee and election to this rank is considered a lifetime honor. New Fellows will be celebrated in Washington, D.C., at the annual Fellows Forum. View the full list of 2023 AAAS Fellows here

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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