Eight University professors, hailing from the fields of psychology, dentistry, biological sciences and ecology, were named as fellows with the American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows Monday. They were among the 388 AAAS Fellows receiving the prestigious recognition this year.
The fellows were nominated by their peers, based on their contributions to the advancement of science or its applications. Last year, the University had 19 AAAS fellows — the most of any other institution.
AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society and selects fellows who have been members of the association for four years. In order to become a fellow, members must be nominated by three previous fellows, one of the 24 steering groups of AAAS’ sections or the AAAS chief executive officer. The policymaking council then votes on nominees and constructs the final list.
Fellow Bradley Cardinale, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and natural resources and environment, is researching how biodiversity can benefit humans.
Cardinale’s lab conducted data syntheses from more than 1,600 ecosystems worldwide. These studies revealed the relationship between the number of species and the environment’s productivity. Productive environments include crops repellent to disease, lakes producing more oxygen and forests with a high wood yield.
This means that preventing extinction is favorable for people; a greater variety of species promotes a slew of human benefits.
“There’s an increasing number of examples that show that biodiversity affects you and things you care about,” Cardinale said. “As we lose those species, are we going to produce as much food and air and water? The answer appears to be no.”
Other distinguished researchers studied innovations in chemical and fuel production catalysts, the importance of social relations while aging, cancer genetics, cells’ signaling pathways and other topics.
Cardinale said there were few more respected awards in his field. He added that he appreciates the recognition the award carries; the public and policymakers are now more apt to learn about Cardinale’s discoveries.
“These awards give you a platform to speak out to people you might otherwise be unable to speak to,” Cardinale said.