American science association honors Iowa State innovators for advancing science

Paul Canfield removes a materials sample from a flux-growth furnace.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is recognizing Iowa State researchers for their innovative work. Here, new AAAS Fellow Paul Canfield removes a sample from a flux-growth furnace. Larger photo. Photo by the U.S. Department of Energy, Ames National Laboratory.

AMES, Iowa – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is honoring five Iowa State University researchers for their individual contributions to physics, agriculture, chemistry and engineering.

Two of the researchers are also affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames National Laboratory, which is operated by Iowa State and located on the university’s campus.

The latest class of AAAS Fellows includes 502 “scientists, engineers and innovators,” all being recognized for “their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science,” according to the AAAS award announcement. This year’s recognition falls on the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows program.

Here are Iowa State’s latest AAAS Fellows, their award citations and their current research interests:


Paul Canfield

Paul Canfield, a Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Robert Allen Wright Endowed Professor in Physics and Astronomy, a senior scientist at the Ames National Laboratory and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

He’s being honored, “For distinguished contributions to the field of materials physics, particularly for his ability to cook up new intermetallic alloys with exotic properties that provide fundamental understanding.”

Canfield’s research group focuses on the design, discovery, growth, characterization and mastery of novel electronic and magnetic materials. Canfield’s group has been active at Iowa State and Ames National Laboratory for 30 years and is known for its contributions to the fields of superconductivity, magnetism, quantum criticality and correlated electron systems.


Elisabeth Huff Lonergan

Elisabeth Huff Lonergan, University Professor of animal science

She is being honored, “For distinguished contributions to the field of meat science, particularly in early postmortem muscle biochemistry, that have made significant, lasting impacts in sustainably providing nutritious, high-quality protein to the world.”

Lonergan’s research centers on improving the efficiency of muscle growth and improving fresh meat quality. Her research program uses cutting-edge protein chemistry techniques to find effective, practical solutions for the livestock industry. Challenges addressed by her work include sustainably producing animal-sourced foods to meet the growing global demand for animal protein.  


Emily Smith

Emily Smith, professor of chemistry and division director of the Ames National Laboratory’s division of chemical and biological sciences

She’s being honored, “For distinguished contributions to advancing the discipline of chemistry by developing new analytical techniques to measure nanoscale phenomena in biomass, energy-relevant materials, and cell membranes.”

Smith’s research group uses a combination of analytical measurements, instrument development and method development to study three primary areas: (1) biophysical measurements of receptor diffusion to reveal the mechanisms of receptors working together, (2) thin film and nanomaterials characterization related to energy-relevant materials, and (3) imaging of biomass to support its use as a renewable source of chemicals and fuels.


Namrata Vaswani

Namrata Vaswani, the Joseph and Elizabeth Anderlik Professor in Engineering

She’s being honored, “For contributions to the field of statistical machine learning, particularly for dynamic structured high-dimensional data recovery.”

Vaswani studies data science, with a particular focus on statistical machine learning, signal processing, and medical imaging. In the last decade, her research has introduced novel online and mini-batch algorithms for structured high-dimensional signal learning problems. More recently, her work has focused on secure distributed learning algorithms. Vaswani also directs the CyMath program at Iowa State.


Yan Zhao

Yan Zhao, professor of chemistry

He’s being honored, “For distinguished contributions to supramolecular chemistry, particularly the development of molecularly imprinted nanoparticles (MINPs).”

Zhao’s research focuses on the development of polymeric nanoparticles as synthetic mimics of antibodies and enzymes. These materials can be designed to enter cells to interact with specific target molecules to intervene in biological functions. Some nanoparticle enzyme mimics have been used in biomass conversion to break down cellulose and in plastic recycling.


The new AAAS Fellows will be celebrated in Washington, D.C., at a forum on Sept. 21, 2024. They’ll also receive a gold and blue rosette pin (the colors represent science and engineering, respectively). And they’ll be named in an April issue of the journal Science.

AAAS was founded in 1848 and is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science and other scientific publications.