Three University of Arizona professors in the departments of entomology, chemistry and biochemistry and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.
Founded in 1848, the association includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Its mission is to advance science and serve society through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more.
This year, AAAS awarded the distinction, an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their scientific peers, to 338 individuals who have been elevated to this rank because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Being chosen as an AAAS fellow signifies that colleagues in the field deem the nominee among the best in the country. The honor is reserved for only a half percent of the total AAAS member base. The AAAS database currently lists 45 fellows at the UA.
The new inductees will be honored at a Feb. 15 AAAS Fellows Forum during the association's annual meeting in Chicago. There, the honorees will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette as a symbol of their distinguished accomplishments.
Those from the UA who were named AAAS Fellows are:
Hughes is at the forefront of the scientific group using tree-ring data to understand global changes in temperature and precipitation over the past 3,000 years.
He is being honored for his research, national leadership and development of dendrochronology and dendroclimatology, and for providing millennial dendrochronological records that significantly increased the understanding of the western North American climate.
Hughes' collaborative research with Michael Mann of the University of Pennsylvania and Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts dropped a bombshell in the area of climate change when first published in 1998, revealing that the late 20th century was the warmest period in the northern hemisphere for at least the past thousand years. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reviewed this work and other corroborating evidence and generally accepted the findings. This work has led to worldwide acclaim and a surge of interest and new research in climate history from tree rings.
Hughes' leadership at the UA's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, his desire to internationalize his field and his determination to obtain fundamentally relevant scientific data have turned the UA into one of the scientific centers for the worldwide understanding of global climate change.
Miranda was selected for the honor based on her distinguished contributions to elucidating the bioinorganic chemistry of nitrogen oxides and developing their use as therapeutic agents.
Miranda is an associate professor in the UA's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute, where she studies nitric oxide, a compound of critical importance to life processes ranging from fighting bacterial infections to controlling blood pressure.
Nitric oxide – or NO – is synthesized in the body and can contribute to the severity of diseases such as cancer or pathophysiological conditions such as stroke. Miranda is interested in studying the fundamental molecular redox chemistry of NO and in developing compounds to deliver or scavenge NO and other nitrogen oxides. These projects are designed to answer questions of potential medical importance through a multidisciplinary approach, including analytical, synthetic, inorganic and biochemical techniques.
Wheeler is being honored for pioneering discoveries, synthesis of knowledge, and seminal concepts in the physiology, developmental biology and evolution of social insects.
Wheeler, a professor in the department of entomology in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, focuses her research on the physiological basis of caste differences in social insects, especially ants and honeybees.
Her research has included regulation of egg production, storage of proteins by adult workers and queens, mechanisms of sperm storage by queens, and caste determination of individuals within a colony. She also has entered the new field of bacterial endosymbionts – microorganisms living inside the guts of insects. The goal is to understand the dynamic interactions between the insects and the bacteria, through development, in different castes and in different ecological contexts.