Two AgBioResearch Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

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Two MAES researchers were among five MSU scientists named AAAS fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The two MAES scientists are plant molecular biologist Robert L. Last and water scientist Joan B. Rose. Other MSU faculty members honored are neuroscience professor S. Marc Breedlove, psychology professor Thomas H. Carr, and advertising, public relations and retailing professor Ewen Todd.

“To be so recognized by one’s peers is a high honor, and these honors indeed are well-deserved,” said Ian Gray, MSU vice president for research and graduate studies. “All these researchers are working in areas that are highly consequential for human health and well-being, and to have this many of our scientists honored in a single year is particularly gratifying.”

Robert LastLast was honored for distinguished contributions to the field of plant biochemistry, particularly through the development of creative, novel approaches in genetics and genomics.

Last is a pioneer in using advanced, high-throughput genetic screening and analysis techniques to unlock the secrets of plant biochemistry. His laboratory group and collaborators are studying the genes that affect the structure and function of chloroplasts, specialized compartments in plant cells that make sugars and oxygen during photosynthesis. They are also using tomato glandular trichomes, small cells located mainly on the plant’s leaves that help protect it from pests, to discover new biochemical pathways. The advanced genomic technology allows Last to analyze data and look for correlations that can’t be seen using traditional genetic screening methods. Manipulating chloroplasts ultimately could lead to plants tailored specifically for biofuel production, as well as plants designed to deliver high levels of specific nutrients. Identifying the genes that control the development and function of glandular trichomes would also allow breeders to create plants that are more insect- and disease-resistant.

MSU is a great place to do plant biochemistry and genomics research, thanks to tremendous colleagues, students and postdoctoral scientists,” Last said.

Rose, who holds the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, was honored for distinguished contributions to the fields of quantitative microbial risk assessment and waterborne disease, particularly cryptosporidiosis.

Rose is internationally known for her expertise in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety, and she has been involved in the investigation of many waterborne disease outbreaks worldwide. Her research examines new molecular methods to track and detect waterborne pathogens and zoonotic agents, such as Cryptosporidium and enteric viruses, as well as drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment and water reuse. She’s also helped develop quantitative microbial risk assessment frameworks and methods and is considered an international expert in this evolving discipline.

“The quality and sufficiency of water for coupled human and natural systems are the most important challenges facing our generation,” Rose said. “What we do now will influence the future global well-being of all life. AAAS is about learning and communicating knowledge, which are important for advancing the sustainability of our planet and quality of life. I am so honored to be a part of this goal.”Joan Rose

This year, 531 AAAS members were named fellows on the basis of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The new fellows will be officially announced in the journal Science Dec. 18 and recognized Feb. 20 during the 2010 AAAS annual meeting in San Diego. The tradition of naming AAAS fellows began in 1874.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the worldÂ’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science and other publications. The AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.

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