Lattman, Liu, Morrow and Ruhl elected AAAS fellows

Release Date: November 24, 2020

AAAS Fellows will be recognized in the journal Science on Nov. 27. An induction ceremony will be held during the virtual AAAS Fellows Forum on Feb. 13.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Four University at Buffalo professors have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

The honor is bestowed on AAAS members by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science applications. The UB faculty members were among 489 members to receive the prestigious distinction this year.

The new UB fellows include:

  • Eaton Lattman, PhD, emeritus professor of materials design and innovation in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and of structural biology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
  • Xiufeng Liu, PhD, professor of learning and instruction in the UB Graduate School of Education.
  • Janet Morrow, PhD, UB Distinguished Professor and Larkin Professor of chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Stefan Ruhl, DDS, PhD, professor of oral biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine.

AAAS Fellows will be recognized in the journal Science on Nov. 27. An induction ceremony will be held during the virtual AAAS Fellows Forum on Feb. 13.

Eaton Lattman (Biological sciences)

Lattman was honored for his distinguished contributions in scholarship, education and leadership in the fields of molecular biophysics and structural biology.

A prolific researcher in crystallography and biophysics, Lattman has focused on protein folding and on the development and improvement of methods in protein crystallography. He has pioneered the emerging field of using X-ray free electron lasers to study biological and nonbiological processes.

Lattman spent nearly his entire academic career at Johns Hopkins University, as professor of biophysics in both the School of Medicine and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, where he also served as dean of research and graduate education. He played a key role in establishing the Hopkins Institute for Biophysical Research.

In 2008, Lattman came to Buffalo to serve as chief executive officer at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. He joined the UB Department of Structural Biology in 2009.

In 2013, he was instrumental in the awarding of a $25 million U.S. National Science Foundation grant to UB and its partners to establish BioXFEL, an X-ray laser science center, to transform the field of structural biology. It was UB’s first NSF Science and Technology Center Grant. Lattman was named director and led the national consortium until 2017. Under his direction, the consortium made significant progress in refining X-ray laser techniques to study biological processes and innovating new approaches to use these methods to advance materials science and other nonbiological disciplines as well. He continues to serve as a member of the BioXFEL steering committee.

Xiufeng Liu (Education)

Liu was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the fields of science education research and communicating and interpreting science to the public.

Liu is renowned for his scholarship on measuring and evaluating student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). He served as the inaugural director for UB’s Center for Educational Innovation, with a mission to improve university teaching, learning and assessment.

He also strives to increase scientific literacy among members of the public, and inspired a program at UB — called Science and the Public — that prepares museum curators, zoo directors, pharmacists and other informal science educators to teach science to a general audience, including by engaging in activities and debates related to science.

Liu has received more than $18 million in research funding, and published more than 100 academic articles and 10 books. He received a doctorate in science education from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in chemical education from East China Normal University.

Janet Morrow (Chemistry)

Morrow was honored for her distinguished contributions to the field of inorganic complexes and their biomedical applications, particularly for magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents and for nucleic acid modifications.

Morrow is an expert in bioinorganic chemistry, with a wide range of innovations and publications in this field. The central theme of her research is the synthesis of inorganic complexes for biomedical diagnostics, sensing or catalytic applications. Focus areas include research and development of novel MRI contrast agents, yeast cell labeling with metal complex probes to track infections, and bimodal imaging agents. Morrow is also an inventor and entrepreneur, having co-founded Ferric Contrast, a startup that is developing iron-containing MRI contrast agents.

She is a recipient of the Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal presented by the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society, the UB Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievement, the National Science Foundation Award for Special Creativity and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. Morrow holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Stefan Ruhl (Dentistry and oral health sciences)

Ruhl was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the field of oral biology, particularly for work on glycan-mediated microbial adhesion in the oral cavity.

Ruhl is an internationally renowned expert on saliva, oral bacteria and the oral microbiome. His research attempts to unravel the roles that saliva and microorganisms play in health, including in adhesion to the teeth and surfaces of the mouth, defense against pathogens and colonization of the oral cavity. He investigates the molecular mechanisms of microbial binding to glycans, a common but little understood class of biomolecules that help bacteria attach to host surfaces, including those in the mouth. The goal of his lab is to harness tools that ultimately help scientists examine how the microorganisms bind to glycans in the mouth to form dental biofilms — more commonly known as plaque — increasing the risk for cavities and periodontal disease.

He was among the first researchers to catalogue the human salivary proteome, which is the entirety of proteins present in saliva and in salivary gland ductal secretions. Ruhl has led or participated in recent studies that have identified how saliva is made, tracing each salivary protein back to its source. He also discovered that 2 million years of eating meat and cooked food has led humans to develop a saliva that is now starkly different from that of chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest genetic relatives. This seminal discovery has resulted in collaborative projects exploring saliva to understand the factors that helped shape human evolution and, in particular, the evolution of the human mouth. These evolutionary projects identified a starch-digesting enzyme called amylase in the saliva of dogs and various other starch-consuming mammals, and through analysis of a salivary mucin protein found genetic evidence that humans may have mated with a ghost species of archaic humans.

Ruhl received the 2020 Distinguished Scientist Award in Salivary Research and the 2014 Salivary Researcher of the Year award from the International Association for Dental Research, as well as the UB Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievement. He holds a doctor of dental surgery degree and a doctoral degree in immunology from Georg-August University of Göttingen.

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