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10 faculty elected as AAAS fellows

January 14, 2011

Ten professors are among 503 new fellows elected this year to the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their efforts to advance science or its applications.

Next month in Washington, D.C., the association plans to present a certificate and a rosette pin to each of the new fellows. The ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 19 during the association’s annual meeting.

Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. Its mission is to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more.

Here are UC Davis’ new fellows, and why the AAAS chose them:

• Eduardo Blumwald, professor, Department of Plant Sciences — For his contributions to “the field of plant ion transport and the application of those discoveries to the development of salt- and drought-tolerant crops.” Blumwald’s research focuses on developing crop plants that can be grown with less irrigation water and on marginal lands, thus better equipping global agriculture to deal with limited and variable water supplies.

• Sheila David, professor, Department of Chemistry — For her contributions to the field of chemical biology, especially in understanding how cells repair damaged DNA. Damage to DNA occurs all the time, as a result of both normal body processes and outside factors such as toxins or radiation. A major area of study at UC Davis, fast and effective DNA repair is vital to preventing cancer. In particular, David’s laboratory has studied how mutations in the gene for an enzyme called MUTYH are related to an increased risk of colon cancer.

• Charles S. Fadley, distinguished professor of physics — For his work in photoelectron spectroscopy, which uses very bright X-rays to study materials, especially very thin "nanolayers" buried below surfaces. Understanding such nanomaterials is important for developing next-generation electronics for computers, memory storage devices and other applications of nanotechnology. Fadley holds a joint appointment as a senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and conducts his research at the lab’s Advanced Light Source, as well as other X-ray facilities in Germany and Japan. He is the recipient of various other national and international awards for his work.

• Julie A. Leary, professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology — For her research using mass spectrometry and other methods to study the structures of biological molecules. She is especially interested in molecules that allow bacteria and viruses to attack living cells and that allow the body's immune system to fight back against invaders. Her work has led to the identification of "virulence factors" that make some strains of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis more aggressive.

• George R. Mangun, dean of Social Sciences, and professor of psychology and neurology at the Center for Mind and Brain — For “distinguished contributions to psychology and cognitive neuroscience in research on brain attention mechanisms, and in teaching, service, administration and the dissemination of knowledge.” His research incorporates brain imaging and recording methods that are used in understanding the organization of brain attention systems in healthy and patient populations. The AAAS also recognized him for his significant contributions to education and the dissemination of scientific knowledge through his roles as a teacher and textbook author and journal editor, as the founder of the international Cognitive Neuroscience Society and as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience.

• David Neale, professor, Department of Plant Sciences — For his “leadership to the community” through serving as the founding editor of the scientific journal Tree Genetics and Genomes; co-authoring the textbook Forest Genetics; and building Dendrome, a collection of forest-tree genome databases. In addition, Neale is the leader on a major genome-sequencing project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and focused on accelerating breeding efforts for fast-growing conifers that can be used as biofuels resources and in sequestering atmospheric carbon.

• Johan Six, professor, Department of Plant Sciences, and chancellor’s fellow — For “excellent and distinguished contributions to the field of soil science by elucidating the mechanisms underlying carbon cycling and sequestration in agroecosystems.” His research focuses on the feedbacks among ecosystem management options (such as tillage, cover cropping, green manuring, sustainable farming and grazing), global change (elevated carbon dioxide and climate change) and biogeochemical cycling. He studies the complex interactions among soil, plants, soil biota (fungi, bacteria and earthworms), and the carbon and nitrogen cycles in agricultural, grassland and forest ecosystems. His group conducts experimental work at both the plot and landscape levels, and integrates it with simulations to identify gaps in knowledge and to predict ecosystem response to global change.

• Jane-Ling Wang, professor, Department of Statistics — For her contributions to “nonparametric survival, functional and longitudinal data analysis.” Wang is known for her contributions to research on aging and longevity, especially at extremely old ages. The AAAS also recognized her for her leadership as co-editor of the journal Statistica Sinica and as chair of the Nonparametric Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association.

• John Wingfield, professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, and holder of Endowed Chair in Physiology — For initiating and catalyzing laboratory and field (“environmental”) endocrinology, with a special emphasis on birds, activating a generation of environmental endocrinologists. His research addresses the question of how organisms cope with a changing environment, from the field to cell and molecular mechanisms. He has been a Guggenheim fellow, as well as president of a national scientific society and an international congress. He is serving a two-year term as director of the Division of Integrative and Organismal Systems at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

• Frank Zalom, professor, Department of Entomology, and an entomologist with Cooperative Extension — For his “distinguished scholarly, educational and administrative contributions that have significantly advanced the science and application of integrated pest management in agriculture nationally and internationally.” Zalom’s research focuses on California specialty crops, including tree crops, grapes, strawberries, caneberries and tomatoes, as well as international integrated pest management programs. He has developed innovative practices to reduce pest damage and reduce insecticide risk, which have become standard practice for these crops.

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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