AAAS Names 15 USF Fellows

From climate change to blueberries, USF faculty expertise is recognized by the international organization.


(Back row from left) Peter Stiling, Earl McCoy, Robert Deschenes, Lynn Wecker, James Garey, Nagarajan Ranganathan. (Front row) John Skvoretz, Paula Bickford, Richard Pollenz, Lorena Madrigal, Karen Liller, Cesar Borlongan. Not pictured: Susan Bell, Lawrence Hall, George Nolas. Photo: Judy Lowry, USF Research News


By Judy Lowry

USF Research News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2012) – The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named 15 faculty at the University of South Florida as Fellows this year.


With expertise that ranges from stem cells, climate change and toxicology to graduate education, computer science and blueberries, USF’s 2012 Fellows are an outstanding example of the high level of teaching, research and scholarship at USF.


AAAS Fellows are awarded the honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.  This year’s fellows represent the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Public Health, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School.


“The University of South Florida is proud of our accomplished faculty members,” said Paul R. Sanberg, AAAS Fellow and vice president for research and innovation at USF.  “The breadth and depth of faculty scholarship and service recognized by this honor is a key reason for USF’s growth as a top global research university.”


The fellows include:


Dr. Susan Bell is professor of Integrative Biology and received her Ph.D. in 1979 in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Her principal areas of research are Marine Biology/Ecology and Restoration Ecology.  She served as interim and co-chair of Biology and chair of Integrative Biology at USF, chaired the Coastal Landscape Pattern Task Force at the Heinz Center (Washington, DC), and was member-at-large for the Estuarine Research Federation. She has received an Undergraduate Teaching Award, Professional Excellence Award, and Presidential Excellence Award.  Her research has been continuously funded since 1979 by NSF, NOAA, NASA, NFWF, and others.   She conducted international research in New Zealand, India, Brazil, Sweden, and Ghana.  She has co-edited one book and published over 100 scientific articles in refereed journals.  Her research interests include restoration of coastal ecosystems, impacts of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on sandy beach ecosystems and assessing changes in underwater seagrass landscapes. She was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to the understanding of estuarine, salt marsh, and near-coastal habitats of the East Coast, and for her vision as an academic leader.


Dr. Paula C. Bickford is professor of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair and USF’s “Dr. Blueberry”.  Her research focuses on the use of nutritional approaches for regenerative medicine in neurodegenerative diseases. She and her co-authors were the first to publish an effect of botanical products on the brain in 1998.  She has demonstrated a neuroprotective effect of blueberries and spirulina in many neurodegenerative disease models, which was then extended to examine if nutritional supplements could impact stem cells to improve regenerative capacity. She has demonstrated that nutritional supplements increase neurogenesis in aged rats and improve cognitive function.   Another area of interest in her lab is the communication between neurons and glia that is regulated by chemokine.  A recent publication in the Journal of Neuroscience demonstrates that fractalkine, a chemokine with a "calming role" on microglia prevents neurodegeneration in an animal model of Parkinson's disease.  She is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors.  She was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Pharmaceutical Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to the field of aging research, and particularly as a leader in the field of nutritional neuroscience and for outstanding service. 


Dr. Cesar V. Borlongan is professor and vice-chairman for research in Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, and director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, and is a world leader in stem cell research for stroke therapy.  His highly innovative translational “bench to clinic” research has led to 4 FDA-approved clinical trials of cell transplantation in stroke, including the world’s first cell therapy in stroke patients. He previously was a tenured professor at the Medical College of Georgia. Trained for 5 years as an NIH Staff Fellow, he has received continuous multiple federal funding totaling over $15 million from the VA and NIH since 2002.  He is an author of more than 230 peer-reviewed publications, lead editor of 2 books, and serves as editorial board member of many scientific journals, including Stem Cells, PLoS ONE, and Brain Research. He is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Neuroscience section) for distinguished contributions to the field of stem cell therapy for neurological disorders, particularly for advancing translational biomedical research of cell based-therapeutics in stroke. 


Dr. Robert J. Deschenes is professor and chair of Molecular Medicine and holds the Fred Wright Endowed Chair in Cancer Biology.  His work focuses on mechanisms of growth control by cellular oncogenes.  Over the years, his group has exploited genetic and biochemical approaches in the yeast system to uncover novel modes of regulation of signaling of Ras family GTPases. The ultimate goal is to uncover new targets for the rational design of new cancer chemotherapeutic agents.  Previously, he was chair of Biochemistry at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Purdue University where he worked with Dr. Jack Dixon.  He was a Damon Runyan postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Biology at Princeton University where he worked with Dr. Jim Broach and initiated studies on the post-translational regulation of Ras oncogene proteins in the model organism yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. He is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to the field of molecular cell biology and the use of model genetic systems to elucidate the spatial arrangement of signaling proteins. 


Dr. James R. Garey is professor and founding chair of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, where he teaches courses in molecular evolution. He came to USF in 1997 and studies the evolutionary relationships of major animal groups using molecular tools. His work has been published in Science, Nature, and PNAS and was pivotal in developing the New Animal Phylogeny that is now prominent in Biology textbooks. His current work uses molecular tools to study the ecology of microscopic organisms that live in soils and in underwater caves. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Agriculture. He received a USF Outstanding Faculty Research Achievement Award in 2003 and is active in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He is an avid underwater cave diver and enjoys restoring classic British sports cars. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions toward the development of the new animal phylogeny that is now prominently found in all biology textbooks. 


Dr. Lawrence O. Hall is Distinguished University Professor and chair of Computer Science and Engineering.  He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Florida State University in 1986 and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1980.  He is a fellow of the IEEE.  He is a fellow of the IAPR.  He received the Norbert Wiener Award in 2012 from the IEEE SMC Society.  His research interests lie in distributed machine learning, extreme data mining, bioinformatics, pattern recognition and integrating AI into image processing. The exploitation of imprecision with the use of fuzzy logic in pattern recognition, AI and learning is a research theme. He has authored or co-authored over 70 publications in journals, as well as many conference papers and book chapters. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Information, Computing & Communication section) for outstanding contributions to scalable pattern recognition. 


Dr. Karen D. Liller is dean of the Graduate School, associate vice president for research and innovation and a full tenured professor in the College of Public Health specializing in public health and injury prevention. She also holds a joint academic appointment in the College of Medicine as professor of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and has undergraduate and graduate degrees in clinical laboratory science, technical education, and curriculum and instruction.  She has been the recipient of several university and state and national honors and was named one of the top 15 national women scholars in health science and health promotion.  She led the development of the USF Sports Medicine and Athletic Related Trauma Institute injury data collection registry for high school athletes and serves as editor of the injury text, "Injury Prevention for Children and Adolescents: Research, Practice, and Advocacy," now in its second edition.  She was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Education section) for distinguished contributions as a graduate education administrator and also as a research scholar in the fields of public health and children’s injury prevention. 

Dr. Lorena Madrigal is professor of Anthropology and a biological anthropologist who studies human microevolution using demographic and population genetic approaches.  Her specific interests include the Afro and Indo diasporas in Costa Rica, the genetic bases of longevity, the effect of female longevity on inclusive fitness, the human mitochondrial mutation rate, human sexual selection and evolutionary processes in historical populations. She has published two volumes with Cambridge University Press: Statistics for Anthropology and Human Biology of Afro-Caribbean Populations. She has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Human Biology, the American Journal of Human Biology and the American Anthropologist.  She has held several elected offices in the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, of which she is currently the president. Her one and only job since earning her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas has been at USF.  She was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Anthropology section) for distinguished contributions to the study of evolutionary change in recent human populations and for distinguished service to the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.


Dr. Earl D. McCoy is professor and associate chair of Integrative Biology. His research interests include conservation biology, demography of rare species, connections between science and environmental decision-making, environmental ethics, and risks associated with biological control practices.  He has authored or co-authored nearly 200 publications, including Method in Ecology: Strategies for Conservation Problems (Cambridge, 1993).  One of his publications has been designated a Citation Classic by the Institute for Scientific Information.  He has served as Associate Editor for several journals, including Ecology and Ecological Monographs, and on research advisory committees for organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  He has received numerous research and teaching awards, including the Askounes-Ashford Distinguished Scholar Award.   He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University in 1977. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to ecology and conservation biology and as an unselfish leader as the associate chair of the department of Integrative Biology for more than 20 years.


Dr. George S. Nolas is professor of Physics.  His research interests encompass both basic and applied research: An understanding of the basic structure-property relationships of new materials, or fundamental physics behind particular phenomena, is then applied towards significant advancements for energy-related technologies. He has over 180 peer-reviewed publications, including the reference standard text on Thermoelectrics theory and applications, six edited volumes, holds five patents with three patents pending, has two teaching awards, including the Jerome Krivanek Outstanding Teaching Award, and has been twice elected to the board of the International Thermoelectrics Society. His former students and postdocs hold tenure-track faculty positions as well as permanent positions in industry and national laboratories. He is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors and serves on the Executive Committee of the USF Chapter. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Physics section) for contributions to materials and solid-state physics, particularly for the development of thermoelectric materials, and in investigating the fundamental physics of clathrate and clathrate-like materials. 


Dr. Richard S. Pollenz is a tenured professor of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, associate dean for Undergraduate Studies and director of the Office for Undergraduate Research. He received a Ph.D. in Cellular, Molecular and Structural Biology from Northwestern University.  His laboratory focuses on aspects of molecular toxicology as they relate to gene regulation and protein degradation that is mediated by environmental contaminants, and has published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in high impact journals such as Molecular Pharmacology, Toxicological Sciences and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.  His research has been funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences since 1997.  He developed innovative strategies to enhance undergraduate research, including an initiative that allowed 600 students to receive research experience through their coursework in 2012, and has received awards for innovations in teaching for the use of music and karaoke to understand key science concepts.  He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to the field of molecular toxicology, particularly for advances in understanding aryl hydrocarbon receptor signal transduction at the protein level.


Dr. Nagarajan Ranganathan is Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at USF, where he has been since 1988. His research interests include nanoscale VLSI circuit and system design and CAD, emerging technologies and computer architecture. He has co-authored over 300 papers in refereed journals and conferences, three books, and four book chapters. He holds eight U.S. patents with one pending. His recent work on Reversible Logic was featured in The MIT Technology Review as a promising technology of the future. He served as editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on VLSI Systems from 2003-2007. He was elected as a Fellow of IEEE in 2002 for his contributions to algorithms and architectures for VLSI systems.  He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Central Florida. He is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Information, Computing & Communication section) for distinguished contributions to the field of computer science and engineering, particularly for the development of algorithms and architectures for VLSI systems and applications. 


Dr. John Skvoretz is professor of Sociology at USF and Carolina Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the University of South Carolina.  He is president of the International Network for Social Network Analysis.  Trained as a mathematical sociologist, he has contributed to several areas in sociology:  stratification and mobility, social network analysis, group processes, power in exchange networks and the structure of social action systems.  His work is characterized by the innovative use of mathematics to formulate theory and analyze data.  An invited member of the Sociological Research Association since 1994, he received the James S. Coleman Distinguished Career Award from the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association in 2012.  He joined USF in 2005 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, moving from the University of South Carolina where he was interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Social, Economic and Political Sciences section) for exemplary contributions to the field of mathematical sociology, particularly for models in the research areas of small group processes and social networks.


Dr. Peter Stiling is professor and chair of Integrative Biology.  He received his Ph.D. from University College, Cardiff and joined USF after postdocs at Florida State University and a lectureship at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. His work in global climate change was the first  to use a large scale field experiment to show how the effects of increased CO2 promote plant growth, reduce available foliar nitrogen, slow herbivore growth, and reduce herbivore densities. He published an influential review in Global Change Biology and was second author on a paper in Science which discussed effects of elevated CO2 on nitrogen fixation. He and his graduate students have worked extensively in coastal environments comparing the effects of plant genotype, local environment and natural enemies on coastal herbivores. He has published four editions of “Ecology: Theories and Applications” (Prentice Hall), and “Ecology: Global Insights and Investigations” (McGraw-Hill). He was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Biological Sciences section) for distinguished contributions to the fields of global climate change, coastal biology, and biology teaching. 


Dr. Lynn Wecker is Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. Since joining USF in 1990, she has served as chair of Pharmacology and Molecular Therapeutics and associate dean for research, and was appointed Distinguished Research Professor in 1995. Her research has focused on characterizing the regulation of nicotinic receptors in the brain, proteins involved in addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and most recently, ataxia.  She has demonstrated that receptors are phosphorylated by specific kinases, and that site-specific phosphorylation plays a role in receptor formation, maturation, expression and function.  She served as president of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and is currently treasurer of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.  She has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and serves on the editorial board of Neurochemical Research. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She was elected as an AAAS Fellow (Pharmaceutical Sciences section) for distinguished service to the scientific community as an innovative, highly accomplished researcher, award-winning teacher, and dedicated servant and leader of her academic disciplines. 


USF was one of the top 10 out of 245 organizations in the world with the most AAAS Fellows named this year.  The top ten list includes the University of Michigan (19 Fellows), The Ohio State University (18), University of California-Davis (17), Vanderbilt University (17), USF (15), University of Southern California (15), Duke University (14), University of California-Irvine (13), Indiana University (12), and University of California-San Diego (11).


Judy Lowry can be reached at