Five faculty members elected as 2017 AAAS fellows

Five Cornell faculty members, including one in the College of Arts & Sciences, have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

AAAS elected 396 new fellows for 2017, honoring their efforts to advance research and its applications in scientifically or socially distinguished ways. New fellows will receive a certificate and a rosette pin at the 2018 AAAS annual meeting Feb. 17 in Austin, Texas.

Cornell 2017 AAAS fellows are:

  • Daniel Barbash, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, who has made seminal discoveries contributing to understanding of the molecular basis of species incompatibilities. Barbash investigates genome evolution to understand the forces that drive genomic change and how evolution at the DNA level leads to phenotypic divergence and speciation. He is also interested in molecular evolution of non-coding DNA and dynamics of transposable elements, or ‘jumping genes.’
  • Amanda Rodewald, Garvin Professor of Ornithology and director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Department of Natural Resources, was honored for distinguished contributions to the fields of ecology and conservation biology, particularly population and community ecology, and for science communication and advising. Rodewald integrates her research and outreach efforts to inform policy and management, and she regularly interacts with government agencies, conservation organizations and private landowners. Among her national leadership activities, she has served on the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, is noted for his contributions to the field of animal behavior by extending knowledge of the complex signaling systems used by honeybees to integrate colony life. His work focuses on understanding the phenomenon of swarm intelligence, which is the solving of cognitive problems by a group of individuals who pool their knowledge and process it through social interactions. He has written four books, including most recently, “Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting” (2016).
  • Christine Smart, professor of plant pathology and director of the School of Integrative Plant Science, was honored for contributions to the science and practice of plant pathology, and for inspiring and introducing children, youth and adults to science. She divides her time between research and extension activities, including elementary school science education outreach. Her research into the diseases of vegetable crops such as cucurbits, cabbage and tomatoes focuses on population genetics, detection and disease management under field conditions in New York. She develops novel disease management options that promote sustainable agricultural practices for conventional and organic growers.
  • Jessica Tyler, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, was honored for contributions to the field of epigenetics – the study of biological changes outside the DNA sequence that impact gene expression. Her research has illuminated the genetic and molecular underpinnings of epigenetic regulation of genome activity and aging. Tyler has focused on a complex called chromatin, which is formed by DNA and a class of proteins called histones that play a key role in regulating the genome’s activity, including gene regulation. Using yeast and human cells in culture, Tyler’s research group has been revealing how the assembly and disassembly of chromatin regulates gene expression, genomic stability and aging – and how defects in that process may lead to disease.

Diane Hess, a freelance writer for Weill Cornell Medicine, contributed to this report.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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 Thomas Seeley