A professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability, Mr Bawa is founder president of Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
He will join some of the world's most influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors and leaders when he is inducted into the institution on October 6.
The announcement was made on the day when Mr Bawa was receiving the Gunnerus Sustainability Award - the world's first major award for sustainability - awarded by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters for the impact his research has had on the sustainability of global biodiversity.
Apart from Mr Bawa, eminent personalities like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, philanthropist Melinda F Gates and political scientist James Druckman also figure in the list of inductees for the year 2012.
With this, Mr Bawa joins the ranks of such distinguished individuals as Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Benjamin Franklin.
The current membership of the Academy includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Underlining the significance of Mr Bawa's feat, academy's President Leslie Berlowitz said the election to the prestigious institution is both "an honour for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve."
"We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day," he said.