Four UC San Diego Faculty Named AAAS Fellows

October 29, 2009

By Dolores Davies

Four faculty members from the University of California, San Diego have been awarded the distinction of “fellow” by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science.

“We are now very proud to have more than 70 faculty members who have been named AAAS fellows, which is an impressive achievement for UC San Diego,” said Marye Anne Fox, chancellor for UC San Diego. “I want to congratulate these outstanding faculty members for the significant contributions they’ve made to science.”

The AAAS fellows for 2007 include biologist Steven P. Briggs, science historian Naomi Oreskes, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Dean Palmer Taylor, and medical researcher Jason X.-J. Yuan.

Steven P. Briggs, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences, was recognized for “the development and application of biotechnologies leading to discoveries in plant-microbe interactions and functional genomics.” Briggs is a molecular biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences who has been working on ways to improve the ability of microbes to produce synthetic alternatives to fossil fuels that can be used as new biofuels.  He spent the first half of his career in industry, most recently as senior vice president for Corporate Research at Diversa.  Previously, he was president of Torrey Mesa Research Institute and before that, director at Pioneer/DuPont for several research areas including genomics.

Naomi Oreskes, Ph.D., professor of history and science studies, was honored “for distinguished scholarship in the history of earth sciences, and for leadership in relating science and technology studies to contemporary scientific policy debates.” Oreskes, a faculty member at UC San Diego since 1998, has been at the forefront of public discussion on global warming, including opinion pieces in major newspapers, since publication of her essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” in the journal Science in 2004. She has testified on the subject before a committee of the U.S. Senate, and her work was cited by Al Gore in his “An Inconvenient Truth.” 

Palmer Taylor, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, was honored “for distinguished contributions to cholinergic pharmacology and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and for leadership in academic pharmacology and pharmaceutical science.” Taylor is the founding dean of UCSD’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is also associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences and he holds the Sandra and Monroe Trout Chair in Pharmacology. He was chair of the UCSD Department of Pharmacology since its inception in 1987 and up to his appointment as dean. Nationally recognized as a leader in pharmacology research, his research interests include the structure and function of receptors and enzymes involved in neurotransmission. More than any other faculty member, Taylor was instrumental in establishing the new pharmacy school at UC San Diego, which is only the second public school of pharmacy in the state and the first in Southern California.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.

Jason X.-J. Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and associate chair for research in the department of medicine, for “distinguished service and medical-scientific contributions to the field of pulmonary vascular disease in understanding the role of ion channels in pulmonary arterial hypertension. Yuan is a leading physician scientist and an innovator in pulmonary vascular biology research.  He is an elected Fellow of the American Physiological Society, the American Heart Association and the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI.)  Since 2003, he has published 32 peer-reviewed articles, edited two books and 33 book chapters and review articles.  Over the past 13 years, Yuan has also trained 25 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, ten of whom are now faculty members at universities and medical schools.

Chosen by their peers, association fellows are recognized for their distinguished efforts to advance science and for significant contributions in areas such as research, teaching, technology or administration.

The new fellows will be recognized on Feb. 16, 2008, at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.


Media Contact: Dolores Davies, 858-534-5994

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