Three University of Toledo researchers have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College and professor in the department of environmental sciences; Karen Bjorkman, dean of the college of natural sciences and mathematics, distinguished professor of astronomy, and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of astronomy; and astronomy professor Steven Federman all were named fellows for their contributions to scientific discovery.
The association is the largest multidisciplinary scientific and engineering society, and the three UT professors are among 396 fellows elected to the group this year.
“We certainly do think it’s significant,” President Sharon Gaber said. “For us, it’s part of what we continue to push to make sure that we’re improving our reputation, and this really verifies that we have outstanding faculty.”
Ms. Appel, who joined UT in 2016, has been named to the biological sciences section for her contributions to the chemical ecology field. Her research on how plants can “hear” by detecting feeding vibrations from insects and then respond with a chemical defense has been widely cited. She also explores how insects trick plants into making structures they then use as protected places to feed and reproduce.
Ms. Bjorkman joined UT in 1996 and is being recognized for her leadership in astrophysics and spectropolarimetry to better understand disks around massive stars. The massive stars are 10 to 20 times larger than the sun and can have unpredictable gaseous discs around them, which she studies to try and better understand.
Another UT astronomer, Mr. Federman, studies interstellar gas clouds to better understand the elements and isotopes within those clouds that form stars. He has been with the university since 1988 and is a leader in establishing the field of laboratory astrophysics, serving as the first chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Laboratory Astrophysics.
Ms. Bjorkman and Mr. Federman are two of the seven fellows named this year to the association's section on astronomy.
“The astronomy program has shown nationally that they are well-known and they are in this elite group,” Ms. Gaber said, adding that UT last year was selected to join the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the only other Ohio institution in the group besides Ohio State University.
All three UT professors will be recognized at the AAAS Fellows Forum at the association’s annual meeting Feb. 17 in Austin, Texas. They’ll join distinguished professor of ecology Carol Stepien, who was elected last year, and senior executive director of research development Jack Schultz, who was named a fellow in 2011 while working at the University of Missouri.
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