Three College of Science professors are among the six Texas A&M University faculty members recognized as 2020 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Mathematician Harold Boas, biologist Paul Hardin and chemist Karen Wooley are among the 489 AAAS members honored by their peers with the prestigious distinction this year for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. They join the College of Geosciences’ David Cairns, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy’s M.N.V. Ravi Kumar and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences’ William Murphy as the university’s most recent inductees.
One additional Texas A&M University System professor, Texas A&M University-Kingsville engineer Mohammad Alam, is included in the 2020 AAAS Fellows class.
This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the “AAAS News & Notes” section of the Nov. 27 edition of the journal Science. Each will receive an official certificate and gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin. A virtual AAAS Fellows Forum inducting them as new Fellows is set for February 13 in conjunction with the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting.
Boas is cited by the Mathematics section of the AAAS “for outstanding contributions to research in complex analysis, communication of mathematics, and service to the profession.”
Hardin is cited by the Biological Sciences section of the AAAS “for distinguished contributions to the field of biological rhythms, particularly for discovering molecular feedback loops that govern circadian timekeeping in all eukaryotes.”
Wooley is cited by the Chemistry section of the AAAS “for distinguished contributions to the fields of organic and polymer chemistry, particularly for the synthesis and applications of two-dimensional polymers and porous polymer networks.”
“Congratulations to our 2020 class of AAAS Fellows,” said Texas A&M Vice President for Research Mark A. Barteau. “Each of these outstanding faculty members has made significant contributions to the advancement of science around the world, as well as to The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M and our research missions.”
The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members — so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution — or by the AAAS chief executive officer. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.
To date, the Texas A&M College of Science features 26 current or former faculty members who have earned the prestigious honor, according to combined college and AAAS records, in addition to several who hold joint appointments within Texas A&M Science.
Brief biographies for Texas A&M Science’s 2020 AAAS Fellows are included below:
Harold P. Boas, Presidential Professor and Regents Professor of Mathematics, joined the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics in 1984 and is an internationally known scholar in several complex variables, having won the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Bergman Prize (joint with fellow Texas A&M mathematician Emil J. Straube) in 1995 celebrating research accomplishment. Beyond research, he is equally revered for his innovative approach to teaching, his lasting influence on students and his flair for writing. An inaugural fellow of the AMS (2012), Boas has received numerous prior awards and honors for teaching and scholarship, including the Mathematical Association of America’s (MAA) 2013 Texas Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics and Texas A&M’s 2012 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award, a perpetual title and Texas A&M’s highest recognition for classroom prowess. In addition to the first Outstanding Teaching Award bestowed by Texas A&M Mathematics in 1994, Boas has received the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at both the college- and university-levels (2009 and 2010, respectively) after previously winning one for Research (1996). A past editor of the AMS journal Notices (2001-03), he is a two-time recipient of the MAA’s Paul R. Halmos-Lester R. Ford Award recognizing excellence in mathematical writing (2017 and 2007) as well as the MAA’s Chauvenet Prize (2009), its most prestigious award for expository writing. Currently, Boas is an associate editor for Complex Analysis and its Synergies and Complex Variables and Elliptic Equations, an editorial board member for Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society and either a moderator or reviewer for multiple additional publications.
Paul E. Hardin, Distinguished Professor of Biology and holder of the John W. Lyons Jr. ’59 Chair in Biology, joined the Texas A&M Department of Biology in 2005 and has served since 2006 as director of the Texas A&M Center for Biological Clocks Research. A widely recognized expert in the molecular genetics of circadian rhythms, his research during the past two and a half decades has helped to establish the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a premier model organism for studying the circadian clock. Because fruit flies undergo many of the same physiological processes as larger creatures, including humans, they serve as model organisms, allowing researchers such as Hardin to define mechanisms that control physiology more efficiently than in more complex animals. As a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University, he was first author on one of the seminal papers cited by the Nobel Committee in awarding the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for circadian clocks research. Hardin had discovered that a circadian feedback loop in gene expression keeps time in the brain of the fruit fly over the course of a day — a breakthrough that established the mechanistic framework for circadian timekeeping, not only in Drosophila, but also ultimately in higher organisms, including humans. Hardin’s research group also identified the so-called “e-box” regulatory element that drives rhythmic transcription required for both circadian timekeeping and controlling rhythmic behavior and physiology. By pinpointing genes that control additional circadian clock function in fruit flies, he continues to shed light on how the human clock operates and reveal possible novel targets for drug development to treat disorders caused by clock dysfunction, such as metabolic syndrome, jetlag, advanced and delayed sleep-phase syndromes, and even cancer. Hardin’s career awards to date include the 2003 Aschoff-Honma Prize from the Japan-based Honma Life Science Foundation, a 2017 Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research and the Indiana University Bloomington Department of Biology’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. A past president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, the world’s premier society for the research of circadian biology, he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Genetics Society of America and the Society for Neuroscience.
Karen L. Wooley, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, 2020 National Academy of Sciences member and holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry, joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry in 2009 and is renowned as one of the world’s top chemists in the burgeoning field of materials and polymer chemistry and in creating new materials at the nanoscale level. In addition to holding joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, she serves as director of the Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions and was named one of Texas A&M’s 24 inaugural Presidential Impact Fellows in 2017. She also serves as chief technology officer for United Kingdom-based Teysha Technologies. Wooley’s groundbreaking work in organic nanomaterials-based chemistry spans the gamut of basic and applied research that affects a host of biomedical, environmental and engineering-related areas and industries. Her research, education and outreach activities have been continuously supported for nearly 30 years by the National Science Foundation, along with a host of additional federal and state agencies, corporate and industry partners and private foundations .Recent achievements made possible by Wooley and her research group include a sustainable plastic that degrades in water; a wound dressing that the body absorbs; a non-toxic polymer coating that can prevent marine animals from sticking to a ship’s hull; and nanoparticles that can absorb 10 times their weight in spilled crude oil. Wooley is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2014), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015), National Academy of Inventors (2019) and American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2020). Her major career awards to date include the American Chemical Society’s 2015 Oesper Award, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2014 Centenary Prize and the 2014 ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry.
For more on the American Association for the Advancement of Science, visit www.aaas.org.
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About the American Association for the Advancement of Science: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; the digital, open-access journal Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more. For additional information about AAAS, see www.aaas.org.
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