Five faculty members from the University of Missouri have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They join 391 other distinguished scientists who have been recognized this year because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. The MU faculty members elected as fellows are:
- David Braun, a professor of biological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. Braun was elected for distinguished contributions to the field of plant genetics, particularly in the area of carbohydrate transport and partitioning in crops. Using a combination of genetic and molecular biology techniques and working in both corn and sorghum, Braun has identified many genes that play a role in the export of sugar out of the leaves and has determined the biological functions of other genes involved in phloem loading.
- Patrick Delafontaine, the Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson dean of the MU School of Medicine. Delafontaine was elected for his distinguished contributions to the field of IGF-1 atherosclerosis and the role of angiotension II in skeletal muscle atrophy. Delafontaine's research opened a new field of study, namely, the wasting effects of angiotensin II, which has proven to have great clinical significance. Many chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and AIDS are characterized by an elevation of angiotensin II. Delafontaine's research has been funded for more than 20 years by the National Institutes of Health.
- David Emerich, a professor and associate chair of biochemistry in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR). Emerich was elected for distinguished contributions to the field of nitrogen fixation, as related to energy sources for fixation, and for substantial contributions to teaching of plant biochemistry. Emerich's research has centered on revealing the central metabolic functions of nitrogen fixation with the aim of increasing plant productivity. He is a member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group.
- J. Chris Pires, a professor of biological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science and an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center. Pires was elected for distinguished contributions to the fields of plant systematics and evolution, particularly for the study of genome evolution and the consequences of polyploidy. Pires co-led an international team that compared the lineage of cabbage plants and cabbage butterflies and proved an evolutionary arms race resulted in species diversification. He also has contributed significantly to sequencing the genomes of several Brassica species, including turnips, kale, canola and their wild relatives.
- Thomas Edward Spencer, a professor of animal sciences and the director of the Interdisciplinary Reproduction and Health Group in CAFNR. Spencer was elected for distinguished contributions to agriculture, and biological and medical sciences, particularly in using animal models and functional genomics to understand uterine placental function and development.
The tradition of naming AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective sections (which are noted on the Fellows list), by three Fellows, or by the association's chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council.
The AAAS Council votes on the final aggregate list. The council is the policymaking body of the association, chaired by the president, and consists of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.
New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, February 17, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.