Careers involving pigs, stem cells, protein structures and a range of other research areas won five MU faculty members spots as 2015 fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.
The award, which dates back to 1874, recognizes members of AAAS whose scientific work or work promoting science is “scientifically or socially distinguished,” according to the AAAS website. The society inducted 346 new fellows in 2015 from universities, advocacy groups and institutions across the country and world and areas ranging from agriculture and mathematics to history and the societal impacts of science.
The 2015 fellows from MU are:
Randall S. Prather, inducted under the category of agriculture, food and renewable resources. Prather is a professor in the animal sciences department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the director of the National Swine Research and Resource Center. Prather’s research focuses on the function of reproductive systems, molecular biology and transgenic pigs – pigs with genetic material artificially introduced from another organism – as they relate to both agriculture and medicine.
Michael Roberts, also under the category of agriculture, food and renewable resources. Roberts is a professor in animal sciences and biochemistry, and he researches reproductive biology. His work has involved pregnancy in livestock, stem cells and preeclampsia, a potentially deadly disorder for that can occur during pregnancy, according to the biochemistry department website.
Dong Xu, inducted under the category of biological sciences. Xu is the chair of the computer science department, and he practices bioinformatics, which uses computers to analyze large amounts of biological data. His research also involves protein structures, plants, microbes and cancers, according to the the engineering college’s website.
Yuwen Zhang, inducted under the category of engineering. Zhang is the chair of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department. According to the College of Engineering website, his main areas of research interest include heat transfer, multiscale modeling and simulation – when models of different scales are used to predict how a system works – and the interaction of materials with ultrafast and high-energy lasers.
David Joseph Pintel, inducted under the category of medical sciences. Pintel is a professor in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Pintel studies parvoviruses, one of the smallest types of viruses, which can cause diseases in animals and humans, according to the School of Medicine’s website. He has focused on the life cycle of the parvoviruses and their interaction with host cells.
According to the AAAS website, the fellows were selected in October and presented with a certificate and fellowship rosette at the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting on Feb. 13. Of the five researchers, Xu, Prather and Zhang attended the induction and reception.
The researchers were nominated by the Chief Executive Officer of AAAS or by one of the leadership groups of the association’s sections or three previously selected fellows. The AAAS Council, which meets once a year, selects the year’s fellows from the pool of approved nominations.
“It’s an elite group of scientists, and it’s a real honor to be a part of this group,” Prather said. “It’s nice to know colleagues think what you do is worthwhile.”