The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named 20 UC Irvine science and engineering researchers as new fellows on Dec. 18, more than any other institution or university this year and the most in UCI’s history.
Although anyone may become a member of the organization, each year faculty and researchers nationwide are named as fellows in acknowledgment of their “meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.”
Including the honorees named this year, 105 current and former UCI researchers and faculty have been elected by the AAAS. Faculty and researchers elected this year are scholars in the fields of natural science, physical science, social science, engineering and mathematics, among others.
New fellows may be elected in one of three ways: the nomination of three current AAAS fellows not affiliated with the nominee’s institution, the nomination of the Chief Executive Officer, or the nomination of the steering groups of the society’s 24 sections, which represent many scientific disciplines.
Although the title of fellow is mostly honorary, it comes with a degree of responsibility. Fellows are responsible for nominating their peers for the same honor. There are also some administrative duties.
“The society may create panels of fellows to address certain issues,” said newly elected fellow Pierre Baldi, chancellor’s professor and the director of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics.
Baldi commented on what the achievement — receiving more newly elected members than any other institution — means at a relatively young university such as UCI.
“I think that the majority of the faculty believes that UCI is a growing and expanding campus, and growing in prominence, also,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of distinguished faculty come to UCI,” said Jason Mednick, assistant director of media relations for engineering and information and computer sciences. “UCI is continuing to grow and mature in many areas, including engineering and technology.”
The AAAS, a well-known and respected scientific society, was formed in 1848 and works to “advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people,” according to the AAAS Web site. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world, with about 120,000 members, and is the publisher of the successful, peer-reviewed scientific journal Science.
The organization has held the tradition of electing scholars who work to advance its goals since 1878. New members are elected at the end of each year. Overall, 486 fellows were elected across the country this year.
“Being named a fellow is a prestigious honor that is widely recognized within the scientific, education and engineering communities,” said an AAAS media representative.
Of the 486 new members named this year, 74 were UC-affiliated, including 13 at UC Riverside and 11 at UC Berkeley.
“I congratulate our researchers on this honor,” said UC President Mark Yudof in a press release dated Dec. 22. “Their work exemplifies the top-notch research UC is doing to improve lives in California and around the world.”
The elected members will be presented with a blue or gold certificate at an annual AAAS meeting in Chicago on Feb. 14.
According to AAAS heraldic tradition, blue represents engineering and gold science. Fellows also receive a fellowship rosette with these colors that honors the efforts of the recipient on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society that has distinguished them among their peers.