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Four professors named 2020 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the world’s largest scientific society, today named four UCLA faculty members as 2020 fellows. Since 1874, the AAAS, which publishes the journal Science, has chosen members for their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

UCLA’s new fellows are:

Sudipto Banerjee, professor and chair of the biostatistics department at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, conducts research in areas including statistical modeling and analysis of geographically referenced datasets, statistical computing and related software development. He is being honored for “innovative contributions to Bayesian methodology with a focus on spatially indexed information, for high-impact applications, educational and mentoring excellence, professional service and academic administration.”

Rong Fu, professor and vice chair of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, conducts research on the role of the atmospheric hydrological cycle and its interaction with Earth’s surface in determining the stability of the Earth’s climate at global and regional scales, and applying climate science to support regional decision-making. Her research has focused on topics including the mechanisms that control the rainfall variability over Amazonian and Pan-American monsoon regions and various factors that influence rainfall variability in the recent past and will influence rainfall and droughts in the future. She is being honored for “seminal contributions to the understanding of rainfall and ecosystem interactions, and the scientific application for improving societal drought preparedness at regional scale.”

Graciela Gelmini, professor of physics and astronomy, conducts research on astro-particle physics, especially dark matter. The vast majority of the matter in the universe is dark matter, which so far has been observed only through its gravitational interaction. What dark matter consists of remains one of the most important open questions in physics, astrophysics and cosmology. She is a theoretical physicist who has extensively studied dark matter candidates, as well as the physics of neutrinos. She is being honored for her outstanding contributions “to our understanding of dark matter and the universe.”

Karen Sears, professor and chair of the ecology and evolutionary biology department, harnesses the diversity in mammals to study how evolution works. Her research explores the developmental rules that shape evolution and provide insights into human health. She is being honored for distinguished contributions to biology, “particularly the developmental mechanisms driving morphologic diversification in mammals.”

A total of to 489 scholars were selected as fellows this year. They will be honored Feb. 13, 2021, at a virtual Fellows Forum.