MSU researchers honored for scientific excellence

MSU Today

Seven faculty elected as 2023 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


From distinguished contributions in global fisheries ecology to researching the impact of puberty on the adolescent brain, Michigan State University researchers are making a difference in Michigan and around the globe — and they are being honored for their work. In April, Christina ChanSean CrossonKevin ElliottKatharine HuntJulie LibarkinCheryl Sisk and William Taylor were recognized as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.

Founded in 1848, AAAS — which is pronounced “triple-A-S” — is the world’s largest general scientific society. In 1874, the society started recognizing distinguished individuals as fellows for their contributions to science and society.

The seven MSU fellows represent seven colleges and were honored for their work in agriculture, biological sciences, chemistry, education, engineering, history and philosophy of science and neuroscience.

“It is an honor to join AAAS in recognizing these seven MSU researchers,” said MSU President Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Congratulations to our new fellows for their distinguished work and contributions to science and society. Making an impact in the laboratory and the classroom, they are an embodiment of our institutional values as they prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators to address the grand challenges of our time.”

This year’s fellows, which include more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators, are, according to the society, “at the forefront of discussions about emerging technologies, semiconductor production, environmental issues, science education, innovative therapies and more as the world grapples with societal concerns around these topics.”

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows Program, AAAS is proud to recognize the newly elected individuals. This year’s class embodies scientific excellence, fosters trust in science throughout the communities they serve and leads the next generation of scientists while advancing scientific achievements,” said Sudip Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

Former fellows include W.E.B. Du Bois, considered the founding father of American sociology; Ellen Ochoa, veteran astronaut and the Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic and second female director in its history; and Grace Hopper, a pioneer in computer software development and programming language.

Chan, Crosson, Elliott, Hunt, Libarkin, Sisk and Taylor join the prestigious list of more than 180 current and past Spartans who have been selected as fellows. Read on to learn more about MSU’s 2023 AAAS fellows.

Christina Chan

A portrait of Christina Chan, wearing a black shirt AAAS

Chairperson and University Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in the College of Engineering

Chan, who investigates disease mechanisms, was selected as a fellow in engineering for elucidating the multifaceted mechanisms by which elevated levels of free fatty acids mediate abnormalities in cellular function through biophysical interactions, signaling and metabolism.

“It is a great honor to be elected a AAAS Fellow,” said Chan. “I am proud to be a member of AAAS, which is an important advocate for scientific research and works diligently to disseminate scientific results. I am thankful to my colleagues, mentors and family for their tireless support over the years. Most importantly, I am grateful to my students for their dedication and for being a source of inspiration.”

Sean Crosson

A portrait of Sean Crosson, wearing a tan turtleneck sweater AAAS

Professor Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair, Department of Microbiology, Genetics and Immunology; professor, BioMolecular Science Gateway in the College of Natural Science and the College of Veterinary Medicine

Crosson was selected as a fellow in biological sciences for his studies on the biology of bacteria — namely for his distinguished contributions to sensory transduction and gene regulation in the freshwater bacterium Caulobacter and the animal pathogen Brucella.

“I’m honored to have been named a AAAS Fellow,” Crosson said. “This recognition reflects the dedication and hard work of many trainees and collaborators over many years. MSU has been an outstanding place to advance our studies of microbes that impact environmental, animal and human health, and I’m excited to see where this work will lead us in the coming years.”

Kevin Elliott

A portrait of Kevin Elliott, wearing a red button-down shirt AAAS

Professor, Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Letters

Elliott was named a fellow in the history and philosophy of science for distinguished contributions in the philosophy of science to the understanding of environmental ethics and of values in science.

“It means a great deal to me to receive this recognition because the priorities of AAAS are closely aligned with my own research goals,” Elliott said. “As a philosopher of science, my scholarship explores how scientists can responsibly incorporate ethical and social values as an integral component of their research efforts, and this is central to the work of AAAS as well.”

Katharine Hunt

A portrait of Katharine Hunt, wearing a black blazer over a floral printed blue shirt AAAS

University Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science

Hunt was selected as a fellow in chemistry for distinguished contributions to advancing the discipline of chemistry by developing novel theories for time-dependent processes and intermolecular interactions in quantum chemistry.

“I am honored to be elected a AAAS Fellow,” Hunt said, “and I am very pleased to join the large group of AAAS Fellows at Michigan State University! It is quite meaningful to me personally that AAAS has recognized my ongoing research on nonadiabatic quantum transition probabilities and van der Waals forces.”

Julie Libarkin

A portrait of Julie Libarkin, wearing a tan, white and grey sweater jacket over a light blue shirt AAAS

Associate dean and professor, Environmental Science and Policy Program in the College of Social Science and head of the Geocognition Research Laboratory; professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Natural Science

Libarkin was honored as a fellow in education for distinguished contributions to the field of geoscience education research, particularly for work that addresses diversity and inclusion, the investigation of cognition and the development of testing and geoscience assessments.

“Being elected a AAAS Fellow is an opportunity to uplift others for similar honors,” Libarkin said. “I hope this honor will allow me to continue to refocus efforts to put communities first in designing and carrying out research.”

Cheryl Sisk

A portrait of Chery Sisk, wearing a black blazer over a grey shirt AAAS

University Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of Psychology in the College of Social Science and the Neuroscience Program in the College of Natural Science

Sisk was selected as a fellow in neuroscience for distinguished contributions to the impact of puberty on the adolescent brain, particularly how it relates differently to social behaviors and eating disorders in males and females.

“I am honored to have been elected a fellow of AAAS,” Sisk said. “It is extremely gratifying to be recognized by the broader scientific community for the importance of our work on the role of pubertal hormones on adolescent brain development and how these hormones influence sex differences in psychopathologies that emerge during adolescence. It is an inspiration to me, my trainees and MSU collaborators to continue our preclinical research that informs the study of human adolescent development.”

William Taylor

A portrait of Bill Taylor, wearing a light blue shirt with a dark blue tie AAAS

University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries SystemsCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Taylor, an internationally recognized expert in Great Lakes fisheries ecology, was selected as a fellow for distinguished contributions in global fisheries ecology, population dynamics and management, including interjurisdictional policy from a local to global perspective.

“It was a surprise and very humbling to be selected as a AAAS Fellow,” Taylor said. “I thank my colleagues because, together, our research is available to and used by the public. I am very pleased to be honored with a group of impressive colleagues in the AAAS.”

Read more about academic and research excellence at MSU.


This story was originally published on MSUToday.


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