News from University of California, Irvine

UC Irvine’s Adriana Briscoe is elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Irvine, Calif., May 1, 2024 —Renowned evolutionary biologist Adriana Darielle Mejía Briscoe of the University of California, Irvine has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She joins a class of 144 scientists from around the world being recognized this year for their outstanding accomplishments in original research.

Briscoe is among 24 active members from UC Irvine to have received this prestigious honor.

“Congratulations to Professor Briscoe on this exceptional achievement of being elected to the National Academy of Sciences,” said Hal Stern, provost and executive vice chancellor. “Her work furthering our understanding of butterflies’ adaptations to climate change illustrates the excellent and important research happening at UC Irvine.”

Briscoe, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, studies the evolution of vision in butterflies, and her discoveries have been featured on television and in museums around the globe. Her lab uses the insects to examine how color vision mediates ecological interactions among butterflies, host plants and the environment in the context of mimicry and species recognition. Briscoe also conducts field and laboratory research that spans genetics, physiology and behavior to increase knowledge of butterflies’ visual and temperature responses to climate change.

She is particularly well known for the discovery of new opsins, which are photoreceptor cells; her exploration of the links between genetic expression of these proteins and functional behavior; and her application of functional approaches in the study of light-sensitive pigments that lead to color vision.

For her research contributions, Briscoe was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022, and the year prior, she won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Other honors include a Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and fellowship in the California Academy of Sciences and the Royal Entomological Society.

“I’m deeply honored to have been elected a member by the National Academy of Sciences,” Briscoe said. “In accepting this, I hope others will be encouraged to aspire to the highest levels of scientific creativity and achievement in order to better understand and preserve our beautiful world.”

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes and promotes outstanding science by election to membership and – with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine – provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Former UC Irvine Chancellor Ralph Cicerone served as National Academy of Sciences president from 2005 to 2016.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UC Irvine has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UC Irvine, visit

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