Four University of Colorado at Boulder faculty members have been elected fellows of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2008.
The AAAS fellows are Professor Jack Burns of the astrophysics and planetary sciences department, Professor Michael Klymkowsky and Professor Michael Yarus of the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and Professor Thomas Veblen of the geography department. They were among 486 AAAS fellows elected by their peers for efforts to advance science or foster applications deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.
Burns, also vice president emeritus for academic affairs and research for the CU system, was honored for his pioneering contributions to the fields of extragalactic astronomy, cosmology, supercomputer numerical simulations, academic leadership and public policy related to science and higher education. In 2008, Burns was named chair of the NASA Advisory Council's Science Committee, the top advisory board for science within the space agency and which addresses issues such as scientific missions to Mars and the moon.
Klymkowsky was cited for his distinguished contributions to biology education, particularly through the development of tools for the assessment of conceptual understanding in the biological sciences. He has been involved in building the Biology Concept Inventory -- a program designed to measure student understanding of basic biological concepts -- and also has been exploring approaches to generate more interactive learning experiences.
Veblen was honored for major research contributions that document how small- and large-scale forest patterns result from interactions among natural disturbances, human activities and recent climatic variations. Veblen has studied the dynamics of forests in Colorado and the southern Andes, including their responses to natural disturbances, human impacts and climate variation.
Yarus was honored for his work with ribosomes and RNA, including the role of RNA in the evolution of life. Yarus also a co-investigator at CU-Boulder's Center for Astrobiology and is known for research showing that parts of current cells likely developed in ancient RNA organisms.
The four new AAAS fellows join 47 active or emeritus faculty members from CU- Boulder previously elected as fellows of the science association.
Founded in 1848, AAAS works to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs and publications in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. AAAS includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science serving 10 million individuals and publishes the journal Science.