Kansas State University scientists named American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows

December 3rd, 2012
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named four Kansas State University researchers among its 2012 fellows, a prestigious recognition given to association members by their peers.

The four fellows from Kansas State University are:

  • John Blair, university distinguished professor of biology: For distinguished contributions in the areas of terrestrial ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry, particularly as they relate to understanding the dynamics of grassland ecosystems.
  • Ruth Welti, university distinguished professor of biology: For distinguished contributions to the field of lipid biochemistry, particularly in mass spectrometry-based lipid analysis as director of Kansas Lipidomics Research Center.
  • Kun Yan Zhu, professor of entomology: For distinguished contributions to insect sciences, particularly in insect molecular toxicology, and to scientific standards as an editorial board member of 10 scientific journals.
  • Ron Trewyn, vice president for research: For distinguished contributions to biological cancer research and leadership in building national research infrastructure to study and mitigate animal infectious diseases detrimental to the nation.
The four Kansas State University fellows are among the 702 fellows chosen this year. The American Association for the Advancement of Science chooses fellows because of their distinguished efforts to advance science.

"We congratulate our newest fellows from the American Association for the Advancement of Science," said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz, who is also a fellow of the association. "These scientists have demonstrated their dedication to the advancement of science and they are well-deserving of this recognition. Their continued success plays an important role as we work toward becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

A list of the new fellows is included in the Nov. 30 issue of Science. They will receive an official certificate and rosette pin on Feb. 16, 2013, at the fellows forum, a part of the association's 2013 annual meeting in Boston.

The Kansas State University fellows have received national and international recognition for their work.

* Blair is a terrestrial ecosystem ecologist with expertise in grassland ecosystems. He leads the National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research program at the university's Konza Prairie Biological Station. Blair's research focuses on biogeochemistry and plant productivity in grasslands and the ecological consequences of global changes, including climate change, land-use/land-cover change and elevated nutrient deposition. His research also includes grassland restoration ecology and the application of ecological theory to restoration.

Blair's research has been supported by more than $30 million in grants—$13 million as principal investigator and $17 million as a co-principal investigator—from many agencies such as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also has served on multiple committees charged with guiding the nation's ecological research priorities.

Blair is the author of more than 100 journal articles, proceedings papers and book chapters. He has served on the editorial board of Ecology, the flagship journal of the Ecological Society of America, and on other international soil ecology journals. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Society of America and the Soil Ecology Society.

* Welti studies the chemistry and biochemistry of lipids. She is director and co-founder of the Kansas Lipidomics Research Center, which is used by scientists around the world as a resource for lipid analysis by mass spectrometry. She has been influential in introducing mass spectrometry as a tool for analysis of lipids, particularly to plant biologists.

Welti's research has appeared in more than 100 publications. Her work has been funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Her current work is aimed at determining the role of lipid oxidation in the response of plants to environmental stresses such as temperature changes and exposure to pathogens. Welti received the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation Scholar award in 2006 and the Outstanding Senior Scientist Award from the Kansas State University chapter of Sigma Xi in 2008.

Welti serves on five journal editorial boards, including the board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She has mentored five graduate students, 66 undergraduate students and eight postdoctoral researchers in her research group.

* Zhu knows insects from the inside out. His research specialties are insect toxicology and molecular biology. He researches how pesticides kill insects and how insects respond to pesticides at a cellular and molecular level. His research is to help control insect pests safely, effectively and sustainably.

His research encompasses biosynthesis and metabolism of chitin, a vital component of insect exoskeletons and other body parts, Bt toxin and insect gut interactions,functions of insect acetylcholinesterases, mechanisms of insecticideresistance, toxicogenomics of pesticides and gene silencing-based insect control methods. He has a patent pending for double-stranded RNA-based nanoparticles for insect gene silencing.

Zhu has written more than 130 journal articles, books and book chapters. He is a member of select professional societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, Entomological Society of America, Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society of Agriculture Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society and the Overseas Chinese Entomologist Association for which he was president in 2010.

* Trewyn facilitates the research efforts of Kansas State University faculty, staff and students and the university's research mission with stakeholders regionally, nationally and internationally. Under Trewyn's leadership, research at Kansas State University has grown from $58.5 million in externally funded grants and contracts to a record high of $147.6 million in 2010. Trewyn led university efforts to build a biosafety level-3 facility and begin the Biosecurity Research Institute. Trewyn also led the university efforts with the consortium that competed for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility and he was instrumental in landing NBAF in Manhattan, Kan.

In addition to Kansas State University, Trewyn has been a faculty member at Ohio State University, where he taught in the medical school and conducted research in the Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research focused on biochemical changes in mammalian cells that can influence cancer outcomes and his work was supported by the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency. He is best known for his research accomplishments with the molecular and cellular events involved in cancer development and treatment.

Provided by Kansas State University

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