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Eight science profs. are elected to AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently named eight Stanford scientists as members of their newest group of fellows. Stanford’s diverse cohort has contributed to spheres of science ranging from immunology to physics to gender studies.

The AAAS, an international non-profit dedicated to scientific advancement in all fields, will honor Arogyaswami Joseph Paulraj, Ann Arvin, Karla Kirkegaard, Peter Sarnow, David Hand Coward, Michael E. Peskin, Cecilia Ridgeway and JoAnne L. Hewett in a ceremony on February 20th in San Diego.

“I am pleased not only for myself, but also to see a number of fellowships being awarded this year in elementary particle physics,” said Peskin, a particle physics and astrophysics professor at SLAC. He attributes his award to work he completed in the 1990s, which improved understanding of weak particle interactions and codified constraints on models of physics at higher energies.

Arvin, Kirkegaard and Sarnow, all professors of microbiology and immunology, have each contributed valuable efforts towards cellular research. Arvin, currently vice Provost and dean of research, has conducted molecular research on several viruses and vaccine immunity that garnered her the attention for the fellowship. Kirkegaard’s research on polio, hepatitis C and RNA viruses enhanced the possibility of preventing these viruses from developing drug resistance. Sarnow also focused on polio and hepatitis C, examining cellular and viral translation.

Hewett, a professor at SLAC along with Peskin, focuses her work on theoretical particle physics. Coward’s help on experiments that illuminated the quark structure of the proton and neutron called him to AAAS attention, even several years after his retirement.

“Coward played an important role in many of the original SLAC experiments,” Peskin said. “His contributions were deep . . . but they did not get much public recognition. I couldn’t tell you how his name came to the top now . . . but it is very appropriate and pleasing to me that he is recognized in this way.”

Ridgeway is the only new Stanford fellow whose work steps outside of the hard science category. A social science professor in the sociology department, Ridgeway’s interests lie in gender and social hierarchies. The AAAS honored her as one of its few fellows in the Section on Social, Economic and Political Sciences for her work in gender inequality and the role of gender in social organizations.

All are new members of the AAAS with varying degrees of connection to the organization, although few truly understand how the fellowship selection process took place.

“Frankly, I don’t know how they make the decisions,” Ridgeway said.

“The process is opaque to me,” added Peskin,

The Section on Biological Sciences saw the most new fellows this year, while Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences gained only one. The AAAS, founded in 1848, lists 94 total fellows from Stanford. The AAAS will award the new Fellows with a certificate and a blue and gold rosette during next month’s ceremony.

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