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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Davis professors receive prestigious honor

When they’re not in the classroom, UC Davis professors engage in cutting-edge research that expands scientific knowledge in their field of study. Some of the discoveries are small, but many have a far-reaching impact, attracting attention from national scientific organizations.

Six professors at UC Davis have been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for achievements like furthering the understanding of weight management and generating images of atomic molecules.

The professors Shirley Chiang, Paul Luciw, George Roussas, David Glenn Smith, Judith Stern and Venkatesan Sundaresan are among the 486 newly elected fellows for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The AAAS, the largest general scientific society, elect people to this highly regarded position for their advancements in science and contributions to the scientific community.

“A fellow is defined as a member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished,” said Jose Arias, the governance associate to the AAAS.

The society’s mission is to improve the advancement of science, engineering and innovation to the benefit of all people. Arias said that in order to accomplish this, they have set certain goals for themselves, including promoting and defending the integrity of science and its use; strengthening support for the science and technology enterprise and providing a voice for science on societal issues.

Each one of these professors has made a major contribution to science in order to receive the honors of becoming an elected fellow. A professor of physics, Shirley Chiang performed studies on atomic level structures on surfaces, including metal alloys and imaging individual molecules on metals.

“When I worked at IBM in San Jose, we measured the first microscopy picture of the benzene molecule, showing it as a ring on a surface; this image is now in many elementary chemistry and physics textbooks,” said Chiang. More recently at Davis, however, she has been imaging molecules on surfaces before and after chemical reactions.

Paul Luciw is a professor and molecular virologist at the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He focuses on researching viruses that have an enduring infection, analyzing blood serum samples to diagnose infectious diseases of mice and nonhuman primates, while also examining cell-signaling pathways in cell-culture models for cancer.

A professor in statistics, George Roussas analyzes probability models, which focus on describing what is happening in the world around us. With Roussas’ work, information can be withdrawn from massive sets of data in various subjects including astronomy, physics, social sciences, medicine and ecology.

“It is a great honor [to be a fellow], and I am elated for having it bestowed upon me,” said Roussas. He also served as an associate dean to the department of statistics and chair of the Graduate Group in Statistics from 1985 to 1999.

David Glenn Smith, an anthropology professor, provided major advancements in primate population genetics and he utilized mitochondrial DNA to analyze the Americas’ origins in being populated by its first peoples.

Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine and a member of the Institute of Medicine, is one of the nation’s foremost experts on weight management. She has been studying adipose tissue in animals and people and also conducted a study with obese women called Health at Every Size (HAES) in order to determine if one could listen to their body, and in doing so would be “told” by it that they were satisfied with enough food, which in turn would lead to a more active and healthier lifestyle.

“I have studied obesity both in people and in experimental animals since 1970,” said Stern. “Because I am a professor doing research in a popular area, I get to travel internationally and serve on a number of advisory boards,” she said.

A professor in the colleges of Biological Sciences and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Venkatesan Sundaresan was recognized for his contributions to the field of plant genomics and plant developmental biology, especially regarding floral development and reproduction.

Nominations are conducted by the Steering Groups of the Association’s sections (the Chair, Chair-Elect, Retiring Chair, Secretary, and four Members-at-Large of each section). Each Steering Group reviews nominees for their section only. Fellow nominees who are approved by the Steering Groups are presented to the AAAS Council for election.

“I congratulate our researchers on this honor,” said UC President Mark G. Yudof in a press release. “Their work exemplifies the top-notch research UC is doing to improve lives in California and around the world.”

An official ceremony honoring the new members will take place February 14, 2009 in Chicago during the society’s annual meeting.


CORY BULLIS can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.



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