Science association honors seven Iowa State researchers for distinguished work

AMES, Iowa – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is honoring seven Iowa State University researchers for their work in agriculture, biological sciences, chemistry and engineering.

The seven are among 416 researchers from around the world who make up this year’s class of AAAS Fellows, the association announced today. The new fellows are being recognized “because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Iowa State’s new fellows are:

Dean Adams

Dean Adams, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, “For distinguished contributions to the field of evolutionary biology, particularly for the development of methods for characterizing and evaluating the evolution of multivariate phenotypes.”

Adams is an evolutionary biologist who studies complex, anatomical traits in vertebrates. He’s internationally recognized for his work in the field of geometric morphometrics (the statistical analysis of shape). He has developed many new methods for evolutionary shape analysis, and has written software packages that assist scientists around the world.

Fredric Janzen

Fredric Janzen, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, “For distinguished contributions to the field of evolutionary ecology, including revealing how natural selection and environmental variation explain phenotypically plastic sex determination.”

Janzen has primarily studied turtles to dissect how a fundamental trait – sex determination – is controlled by temperature and affects the structure of wild populations. The goals of his research include improving our understanding of human impacts on biodiversity, clarifying the environmental sensitivity and genetic underpinnings of key traits such as temperature-dependent sex determination and the responses of already-endangered organisms to rapid environmental changes.

Kristen Johansen

Kristen Johansen, a Roy J. Carver Professor and the chair of the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, “For distinguished contributions to the fields of epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure, nuclear architectural remodeling, and mitotic spindle formation in the cell cycle.”

Johansen studies processes critical for normal cell differentiation and development, including how the active regions of the genome are protected from gene silencing and how nuclear proteins contribute to mitotic spindle organization and function during cell division. This work provides insight into some of the underlying dysfunctions that contribute to aging or cancer.

Ratnesh Kumar

Ratnesh Kumar, the Murray J. and Ruth M. Harpole Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, “For distinguished contributions to discrete-event and cyberphysical systems, embedded software, and agri-, bio- and environmental sensors, and energy harvesting.”

Kumar is also a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and directs Iowa State’s ESSeNCE (Embedded Software, Sensors, Networks, Cyberphysical, and Energy) Lab. His research has applications in cyberphysical systems such as avionics and automotive software, agriculture and biosensing, energy harvesting and the power grid.

Javier Vela

Javier Vela, associate professor of chemistry, “For pioneering molecular reactivity approaches to the reproducible synthesis of complex nanostructures, and for advancing diversity and inclusion in the chemical sciences.”

The goal of Vela’s research is to design powerful and widely applicable synthetic strategies – across molecular, nano, and bulk scales – that enable the effective incorporation of new materials into energy conversion and catalytic technologies. He has also helped develop a more diverse and inclusive scientific workforce by working with young scientists and engineers, from high school students to postdoctoral scholars.

Jianming Yu

Jianming Yu, the Pioneer Hi-Bred Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding and professor of agronomy, “For distinguished contributions to genetics and genomics of plant crops, with particular attention to processes associated with the domestication of maize.”

The focus of Yu’s research is to address significant questions in plant breeding by combining cutting-edge genomic technologies and quantitative genetics theories. Yu is internationally recognized for his creative research in developing methods and strategies in genome-wide associate studies and genomic selection.

Qijing Zhang

Qijing Zhang, associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dr. Frank K. Ramsey Endowed Chair in Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, “For distinguished contribution to the field of food safety and animal health, particularly for deciphering antibiotic resistance and pathogenic mechanisms for foodborne pathogens.”

Zhang’s research focuses on understanding how bacterial pathogens infect animals and how they develop resistance to clinically important antibiotics. His study is instrumental in discovering emerging antibiotic resistance threats and has provided critically needed information for risk assessment and development of control strategies.

The new class of AAAS fellows will be announced in the Nov. 29 issue of the journal Science.

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of Science and other journals. The association was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million people.