Eight faculty members elected as AAAS Fellows

December 22, 2008

Eight Arizona State University faculty members are among the 486 newly elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a prestigious international scientific society. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society.

Brad Allenby, Richard Creath, James Elser, Patricia Gober, Nancy Grimm, Sudhir Kumar, Thomas Moore and John Spence will be recognized Feb. 14 at the Fellows forum, during the 2009 AAAS annual meeting in Chicago.

This year’s election brings the total number of AAAS Fellows at Arizona State University to 54.

Becoming a Fellow is in recognition of efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Within that general framework, each awardee is honored for contributions to a specific field.

Braden Allenby is cited by the AAAS for “distinguished contributions to earth systems engineering and management, design for environment, industrial ecology and science and technology policy.” He is a professor in ASU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as well as a professor of law and of engineering and ethics with the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Recognized as a pioneer of modern industrial ecology, Allenby is co-director of the Center for Sustainable Engineering and is helping establish a new Center of Earth Systems Engineering and Management. He recently was named as one of the U.S. Professors of the Year for 2008 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Higher Education.

Richard Creath is cited by AAAS for “achievements in archiving and interpreting key documents in the historical development of scientific philosophy and demonstrating their relevance to current problems.” Creath, a professor in the School of Life Sciences, is a philosopher of science and epistemologist who uses historical methods to illuminate fundamental questions about the nature of scientific reasoning and knowledge. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on philosophers Rudolf Carnap and W.V.O. Quine. As general editor of the multi-volume Carnap Project, he leads an international team of two dozen leading researchers.

James Elser is cited by AAAS for “pioneering work in developing the theories of ecological and biological stoichiometry to integrate levels of biology from the genome to the biosphere and thereby improve our management of renewable resources.” Elser, a professor in the School of Life Sciences, has built a career asking questions about evolutionary biology and energy and material flows in ecosystems, traveling from Antarctica to alpine lakes of Norway and Colorado to the Mongolian grasslands of China, to find answers. Understanding the balance of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in systems forms the backbone of Elser’s worldview, known as “stoichiometric theory.” He has taught more than 10,000 students and his pioneering studies have shaped young minds and jumpstarted new research approaches, as well as provided insights into nutrient limitation, trophic dynamics, and biogeochemical cycling, evolution and integrated levels of organization from molecules to cells to ecosystems.

Patricia Gober, a human geographer and demographer, is co-director of the National Science Foundation’s Decision Center for a Desert City, part of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, and a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences. A former president of the Association of American Geographers, Gober’s research focuses on the use of science and visualization for real-world decision-making, particularly in tackling the difficult water management decisions necessary in the face of growing climatic uncertainty in metropolitan Phoenix. Gober is cited by AAAS for her “outstanding record of scholarship and disciplinary leadership” and because she “clearly established herself as a leader within the discipline and has left a permanent mark within American geography.”

Nancy Grimm is cited by AAAS for “pioneering studies of urban social-ecological systems that conceptually expand urban resource management, and for innovative contributions in stream ecology and biogeochemistry that have stimulated decades of research.” Grimm, a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, has for the past 10 years led the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project. CAP-LTER is centered on the analysis of urban-semi-arid ecosystem relationships. Through her collaborative work, Grimm has established a conceptual basis for including human choice and action in theory of urban ecosystem dynamics. The work on biogeochemistry, species distribution and abundance, and designed aquatic ecosystems in cities has revealed that many ecological features are best explained by combinations of social and biophysical drivers.

Sudhir Kumar directs the Center for Evolutionary Functional Genomics in ASU’s Biodesign Institute and is a professor of biology in the School of Life Sciences. He is cited by AAAS for “exemplary contributions in evolutionary bioinformatics, particularly in developing high-impact comparative analysis software for biologists and in illuminating the evolutionary dynamics of mutations and species through comparative genomics.” Among his pioneering efforts was the software analysis of gene expression patterns from early gene expression patterns of fruit fly development, advanced work using protein molecular clocks to illuminate the Evolutionary Timescale of Life and the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) software package that makes useful methods of comparative sequence analysis easily accessible to the scientific community for research and education. Kumar also has received an Innovation Award in Functional Genomics from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in 2000. Download Full Image

Thomas Moore, a biochemist, is cited by AAAS for “pioneering research in artificial photosynthesis including the design of artificial reaction centers, antenna and assembling an energy-converting artificial photosynthetic membrane.” Moore is a professor in ASU’s chemistry and biochemistry department and director of the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis. Most recently, he served on the U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Grand Challenges Committee, which produced “Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination,” outlining research priorities for the foreseeable future. Moore and colleagues collaborate on research in artificial photosynthesis, which is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of natural photosynthesis and the design, synthesis and assembly of bio-inspired constructs capable of sustainable energy production and conversion for human use.

John C.H. Spence is a Regents Professor in ASU’s Department of Physics. He was cited by the AAAS for “distinguished contributions to diffraction physics, especially atomic-resolution electron microscopy, electron diffraction studies of the chemical bond and diffractive (lens-less) x-ray imaging.” Spence undertakes experiments in condensed matter physics based around the use of electron beams for imaging, spectroscopy and diffraction. The work requires Spence’s group to build or modify advanced instruments in order to do their experiments. Spence is currently working with others to get femtosecond “snapshots” of individual proteins using the first hard x-ray laser facility in the U.S., which will begin operation next year.

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