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Seventeen faculty elected as AAAS fellows

November 29, 2012

Seventeen faculty members from the University of California, Davis, have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year. They are among 702 new fellows, honored for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications, to be announced Nov. 30. The new fellows will be formally recognized Feb. 16 during the association's annual meeting in Boston.

The newly elected fellows from UC Davis range from economists to biomedical engineers to experts on wireless networking:

Kyriacos Athanasiou, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was honored for his distinguished contributions to biomedical engineering and bioengineering, particularly for biomechanics-driven tissue regeneration, for leadership in engineering-in-medicine, and for commercial technologies based on his research. His laboratory focuses on the challenge of regenerating cartilage tissue.

Lars Berglund, senior associate dean for research and director of the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, was recognized for exemplary development and administration of the CTSC and for overseeing all aspects of the School of Medicine’s collaborative research program, which is transforming modern scientific exploration and improving health for all.

Professor Nicole Woolsey Biggart is an expert in economic sociology and management of innovation. She has studied a wide array of business sectors from the auto industries of South Korea, Taiwan, Spain and Argentina to the commercial construction industry in the United States. Biggart has held a variety of leadership positions, including dean of the Graduate School of Management from 2003 to 2009. She currently holds the Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency and is director of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center. She has taught at the management school since 1981.

Plant pathology professor Richard M. Bostock was recognized for his distinguished contributions to basic research in plant-microbe interactions and exemplary leadership in the National Plant Diagnostic Network, a surveillance and diagnostic program designed to protect plants against serious pests and diseases that could be introduced accidentally or through bioterrorism. His research focuses on fungal diseases of orchard crops and on root- and crown-rot diseases caused by the destructive Phytophthora species, using various research plants including tomato, Arabidopsis, peach, walnut and rhododendron.

Professor David Britt of the Department of Chemistry was elected for contributions in the field of electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy applied to biochemical and biomimetic reactions, particularly the chemistry of photosynthetic water splitting. Britt is attempting to recreate in the laboratory what green plants do every day — use sunlight to split water and release hydrogen that could be used as fuel.

Plant biology professor Luca Comai was honored for his distinguished contributions toward research on the biological mechanisms underlying polyploidy, the process of genome doubling that results in plants with multiple sets of chromosomes, and in plant hybridization in general. His selection also was based on his efforts to develop technology for functional genomics — specifically for generating and identifying changes in DNA structure in plants. The UC Davis Genome Center uses this technology for studying rice, wheat, Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato.

Professor Mary Erin Delany, a distinguished avian geneticist and interim dean of UC Davis’ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was selected for her contributions to poultry genetics and genomics, administrative leadership in the agricultural sciences, and service in science policy and conservation of avian research resources. Using chickens as a research model, she studies the biology of telomeres, DNA regions that cap the end of chromosomes and have important implications for aging and disease in humans as well as birds and other animal species.

David Fyhrie, professor of biomedical engineering and David Linn Endowed Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, was honored for his distinguished contributions to computational and experimental biomedical engineering, particularly for novel contributions to the prediction and prevention of osteoporotic fracture, and for exploring new ways to treat musculoskeletal disorders.

M. Eric Gershwin is professor and chief of rheumatology, allergy and clinical immunology. He leads a team of researchers and clinicians that offers the latest treatments for immune diseases of the liver, bowel, skeletal system and lungs. Gershwin was honored for his lifetime contributions and discoveries in immunobiology, particularly the cause and progression of primary biliary cirrhosis, and for his internationally recognized expertise in medical research and environmental health.

Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, is an expert on organic synthesis. She was honored for her distinguished contributions to the field, particularly for the development of glycosylation methodologies and the synthesis and characterization of biomimetic macromolecules. Gervay-Hague has helped to establish pharmaceutical chemistry at UC Davis and was recently appointed as director of the Division of Chemistry at the National Science Foundation, a rotating position of up to four years.

Louise H. Kellogg, professor, Department of Geology, was honored for "fundamental contributions to understanding mantle and deep Earth dynamics, stratified mantle convection, kinematic mixing and homogenizing the mantle, and 3-D visualization of mantle processes." Kellogg studies how the slow movement of rock deep in the Earth's interior drives the movement of tectonic plates. She directs the Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences, or Keck CAVES, a campus research facility that is walled with projection screens to create an immersive, three-dimensional environment for interactive exploration of scientific data.

Professor Steven J. Luck of the Department of Psychology and director of the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, is an expert on perception and cognition. His research focuses on the neural and cognitive mechanisms of attention and working memory in healthy young adults and dysfunction of these mechanisms in psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia. He also works to develop, promote and teach methods for recording brainwaves.

Prasant Mohapatra, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, was elected for his distinguished contributions to the field of computer networks, particularly for designing novel protocols for quality and security in wireless networks.

Isabel Patricia Montañez, professor in the Department of Geology, was elected for "distinguished and paradigm-changing science in the field of deep-time climatology and environmental change, and for untiring contributions to the profession of sedimentary geology." As a paleoclimatologist, Montañez’s research of connecting rocks to climate records has ranged from analyzing stalagmites in California caves to reconstructing past climate conditions from minerals and fossil plants obtained from geologic basins throughout the world.

Professor Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Stem Cell Program, was honored for her groundbreaking research into human stem cells, especially how they might be used to overcome Huntington's disease, for her leadership in directing the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, and for raising public awareness about the benefits of regenerative medicine.

Professor Ray Rodriguez of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology was elected for both distinguished contributions to fundamental research in molecular biology and genomics and for his work in administration, especially in developing international collaborations leading to the rice genome project. Rodriguez is also director of the Center for Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis and co-founder of the Global HealthShare Initiative, which aims to make affordable and accessible health a reality worldwide.

Howard J. Spero, professor and chair of the Department of Geology, was elected for "fundamental contributions to the understanding of the isotope and trace metal geochemistry of marine microfossils and, ultimately, the history of life and climate in the past." Spero, a paleoceanographer, conducts geochemical analyses on the shells of recent and fossil marine organisms. This allows him to reconstruct past Earth climate from the geological record.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, established in 1848, is the world’s largest general scientific society with a mission to "advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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