AAAS recognizes six Iowa State researchers for their distinguished science

AMES, Iowa – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is recognizing six Iowa State University researchers for their distinguished work in neuroscience, math, biochemistry, livestock genomics, physics and crop genomics.

The six Iowa Staters are part of this year’s class of 347 new AAAS Fellows, the association announced today. The fellows have been selected “because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Iowa State’s new fellows are:

Anumantha Kanthasamy

Anumantha Kanthasamy, a Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Medicine, the Eugene and Linda Lloyd Endowed Chair of Neurotoxicology, and chair of biomedical sciences, “For outstanding contributions to the fields of neurotoxicology and neurodegeneration, and for the development and translation of new therapeutic strategies to treat neurodegenerative disorders.”

Kanthasamy is currently studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell death signaling and protein aggregation pathways as they relate to the development of Parkinson’s disease and other protein-misfolding diseases. He was also elected this year to be a fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.

Howard Levine

Howard Levine, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mathematics, “For outstanding contributions to partial differential equations in singularity formation, modeling angiogenesis, novel dynamical systems approach to exponential enrichment, and invigorating applied mathematics at ISU.”

Levine is developing a mathematical model to study the feasibility of enhancing the uptake of antibiotics by drug-resistant bacteria by using small molecules known as aptamers. Selection of the RNA sequences for aptamers is performed via exponential enrichment.

Reuben Peters

Reuben Peters, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, “For distinguished contributions to the field of natural products biochemistry, particularly for investigations of diterpenoid biosynthesis and physiological function in plant-microbe interactions.”

Peters is researching the biosynthesis and physiological function of complex compounds from plants and microbes, particularly in rice. Studies have shown these natural products help crop plants resist disease. Bacteria also use these chemicals to interact with plants, influencing pathogen strength as well as the beneficial relationship between rhizobacteria and legumes 

James Reecy

James Reecy, professor of animal science and director of the Office of Biotechnology, “For distinguished contributions to the animal breeding and genetics field, particularly for beef cattle genomics and development of bioinformatic tools and databases for livestock genomics.”

Reecy is working to characterize the molecular mechanisms that regulate animal growth and to identify molecular markers to improve beef cattle production. The primary goal is to increase lean tissue production and meat quality in livestock. He’s also developing computer tools that help livestock researchers quickly complete genomics studies.

Beate Schmittmann

Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of physics and astronomy, “For seminal and sustained research on fundamental and applied problems in nonequilibrium statistical physics, and for contributions to administration and to increasing diversity in STEM.”

Schmittmann’s research focuses on statistical and biological physics, including the modeling of natural processes related to biomolecular transport and the spread of epidemics. She is also contributing to a study of faculty engagement and retention in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Roger Wise

Roger Wise, research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and collaborator professor of plant pathology and microbiology, “For distinguished research and leadership to the field of the genomics of disease interactions in cereal crops, technology development and outreach to young scientists.”

Wise is currently leading an international project that’s studying how powdery mildew, a fungus that can reduce crop yields by as much as 40 percent, impacts barley and wheat at the molecular level. Much of the research centers on effectors, proteins secreted by the fungus that weaken plant defenses, and how they interact with host plants to cause disease. 

The new AAAS Fellows will be announced in the Nov. 27 issue of the journal Science. They will also be honored during the AAAS annual meeting on Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C.

Members of AAAS can be considered for recognition as fellows if they’re nominated by the steering group of an association scientific section, by three fellows or by the association’s chief executive officer.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows dates back to 1874.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society. It was founded in 1848, includes 254 affiliated societies and publishes the journal Science.