The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently announced that it had awarded the distinction of Fellow to 396 of its members for 2017 in recognition of their contributions to science and technology, scientific leadership and extraordinary achievements across disciplines.

Among the Fellows, at least 19 scientists are of Indian or South Asian origin. Fellows were chosen in two dozen categories.

The new AAAS Fellows will be recognized Feb. 17, 2018 during the Fellows Forum at the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

In the agriculture, food and renewable resources category, Autar K. Mattoo of USDA-Agricultural Research Service was among the honorees. Mattoo is a senior scientist at the ARS’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Previously, he served as a research leader for 16 years – nine years heading the plant molecular biology laboratory and seven years heading the vegetable laboratory at USDA-ARS. He specializes in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.

In the atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences category, Binayak P. Mohanty of Texas A&M University was selected as a Fellow. Mohanty’s research includes water, heat, and chemical transport measurement and modeling in variably-saturated porous media ranging from core-scale to regional-scale; measurement and modeling of hydraulic properties, and preferential water flow and chemical transport through macroporous media. He earned his M.E. from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from Iowa State University.

In the biological sciences category, Sudhansu K. Dey from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/ University of Cincinnati, Subba Reddy Palli from University of Kentucky, and K. Sandeep Prabhu from Pennsylvania State University were among Indian Americans and South Asian origins honored.

Dey received his Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta College of Sciences in 1972, after which he received postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas Medical Center from 1973-1977, followed by his faculty appointment in 1977 where he rose to the rank of University Distinguished Professor. He moved to Vanderbilt University as Dorothy Overall Wells Professor of Pediatrics, Cell and Developmental Biology and Pharmacology in 2002. In both places he directed NIH-funded reproductive biology training grants. In 2008, Dey moved to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as Lova Riekert Chair and professor of pediatrics within the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to start a new division of reproductive sciences. He has published over 300 original articles and has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and March of Dimes Foundation, among others.

As the Department Chair for the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology, Palli also serves as the state entomologist of Kentucky. Molecular analysis of growth, development, reproduction and xenobiotic response in insect pests and disease vectors with a goal to utilize this information for their control is Palli’s main focus.

Prabhu is a professor of immunology and molecular toxicology and co-leader of mechanisms of carcinogenesis program at the Penn State Cancer Institute.

Usha Varanasi from the University of Washington was the only Indian American Fellow in chemistry. Varanasi, a faculty at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, retired as the science and research director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, a position she had held since 1994, when she became the first woman to lead a fisheries field office.

In engineering, Keshab K. Parhi of the University of Minnesota and Sudarsan Rachuri from the U.S. Department of Energy were selected.

Parhi, who earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, has been a faculty member in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Minnesota since 1988 where he is currently Edgar F. Johnson Professor of Electronic Communication and a Distinguished McKnight University Professor. His research area is around communications, signal processing and networking, computer engineering, VLSI and circuits, biomedical and biological computational methods, devices, and system.

Rachuri, a technology manager in the R&D facilities group at the U.S. Department of Energy, is an international expert in Smart Manufacturing. He previously worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he was an industrial engineer with the Life Cycle Engineering Group in the systems integration division. His primary objectives were to develop and transfer knowledge to industry about information models for sustainable manufacturing, green products, assembly representation, system level analysis, and tolerance representation.

In the geology and geography category, Budhendra L. Bhaduri from Oak Ridge National Laboratory was named a Fellow. Bhaduri is a Corporate Research Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leads the Geographic Information Science and Technology group within the Computing and Computational Sciences directorate. He is a founding member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geospatial Sciences Steering Committee. His primary responsibilities include conceiving, designing, and implementing innovative geocomputational methods and algorithms to solve a wide variety of national and global problems involving population dynamics modeling, natural resource studies, transportation modeling, critical infrastructure protection, and disaster management.

Among the honorees in the information, computing and communication category were H.V. Jagadish from the University of Michigan, Subbarao Kambhampati and Sethuraman Panchanathan of Arizona State University, and Prashant Shenoy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Jagadish, a Bernard A Galler Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1985, and worked for many years for AT&T, where he eventually headed the database department. He teaches courses related to database management, data analysis, the web, and data structures and algorithms.

Kambhampati is a professor in the department of computer science and engineering at the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. He is also the president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Panchanathan is currently the executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer of knowledge enterprise development at Arizona State University. In this role he is responsible for advancing research, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development at ASU.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst computer science professor Shenoy is a member of the computer science faculty since 1998. He also currently serves as the associate dean for computing and facilities in the College of Information and Computer Sciences where he leads the Laboratory for Advanced Systems Software and the newly established Center for Smart and Connected Society. His research focuses on distributed systems and networking, with a recent emphasis on cloud and green computing.

In the medical sciences section, Satya Dandekar from the University of California, Davis; Anil K. Rustgi from the University of Pennsylvania, and Jayant P. Shenai from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University were named 2017 Fellows.

Dandekar is a professor of microbiology and the chairperson of the department of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis and has a joint appointment in the department of internal medicine, division of infectious diseases, School of Medicine. Her research program is focused on the molecular pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus and simian immunodeficiency virus infections with special emphasis on gastrointestinal mucosal lymphoid tissue as a major target organ of the viral infection and as a viral reservoir.

Rustgi, an M.D., is the chief of gastroenterology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His research revolves around oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, tumor microenvironment, tumor metastasis, and molecular genetics of GI cancers (colon, pancreatic, upper GI).

Shenai is a professor of pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. His specialty is neonatology.

Umesh Garg of the University of Notre Dame and Chandralekha Singh of the University of Pittsburgh were among those selected in the physics category.

Garg is a professor of experimental nuclear physics at the University of Notre Dame. His current research interests include experimental investigation of compressional-mode giant resonances and exotic quantal rotation in nuclei.

Singh, the winner of the 2017 Carnegie Science Center University Post-Secondary Educator Award, is the director of University of Pittsburgh’s Discipline-based Science Education Research Center. The goal of her research is to identify sources of student difficulties in learning physics both at the introductory and advanced levels, and to design, implement, and assess curricula/pedagogies that may significantly reduce these difficulties.

In the statistics category, Bhramar Mukherjee from the University of Michigan was selected as a Fellow. Mukherjee is a professor in the department of biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She is also a professor in the department of epidemiology. Her principal research interests lie in Bayesian methods in epidemiology and studies of gene-environment interaction. She is also interested in categorical data models, Bayesian nonparametrics, and the general area of statistical inference under outcome/exposure dependent sampling schemes. Her methodological research is funded by NSF and NIH.

No Indian Americans or South Asians were recognized in the anthropology, astronomy, dentistry and oral health sciences, education, general interest in science and engineering, history and philosophy of science, industrial science and technology, linguistics and language sciences, mathematics, neuroscience, pharmaceutical sciences, psychology, social, economic and political sciences, and societal impacts of science and engineering categories. 

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