Your colleagues

Seven UB researchers elected AAAS fellows


Published April 19, 2024


Seven UB researchers 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 annually upon scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines — from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public, according to AAAS.

The new UB fellows are Sherry Chemler, Jean-Pierre Koenig, Kemper Lewis, Gabriela Popescu, Thomas Russo, Frederick Stoss and Janet Yang.

Sherry Chemler.

Sherry Chemler

“For distinguished contributions to synthetic chemistry, including developing new copper-catalyzed alkene additions that enable concise de novo synthesis of enantioenriched saturated nitrogen and oxygen heterocycles.”

Sherry Chemler is a professor in the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, who has developed groundbreaking chemical methods that can aid drug discovery. In the mid-2000s, she invented new copper-catalyzed alkene additions that enabled concise synthesis of chiral nitrogen and oxygen heterocycles — valuable organic compounds that enable drug discovery. Supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Chemical Society, Chemler and her team have spent the ensuing years expanding the scope of the transformations. A collaborator with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, she has several ongoing projects addressing challenges in drug discovery related to potency, selectivity and metabolism. Her publications have been cited more than 8,200 times and she has been an associate editor for the AAAS journal Science Advances since 2016. 

Jean Pierre Koenig.

Jean-Pierre Koenig

“For distinguished contributions to the language sciences and for integrating formal syntax and semantics studies of lexical knowledge across languages of the world with experimental, corpus, and computational techniques.”

Jean-Pierre Koenig, professor in the Department of Linguistics, College of Arts and Sciences, studies the organization and use of words in a diverse array of languages, from English to Oneida. His work has focused on verbs, how their structure and meaning vary across languages, as well as how we deploy our vocabulary — especially of words with more than one meaning — when we read. One of his current projects is a comprehensive study of the structure of Oneida, an Iroquoian language, that will challenge the idea that certain properties of language are universal. His work has been published extensively and includes contributions to many language sciences disciplines, including to the “Grande Grammaire du français,” the largest comprehensive grammar of French written in the past 100 years.

Kemper Lewis.

Kemper Lewis

“For distinguished contributions to the field of design automation, advancing both fundamental decision theory and novel applications to systems design, design analytics, and Industry 4.0.”

Kemper E. Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is a global leader in engineering design, system optimization and advanced manufacturing. He is director of UB’s Community of Excellence in Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART), which develops advanced manufacturing and design automation solutions. Lewis is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and has served on the National Academies Panel on Benchmarking the Research Competitiveness of the United States in Mechanical Engineering. He has published more than 200 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings, and has been principal or co-principal investigator on grants totaling more than $33 million.

Gabriela Popescu.

Gabriela Popescu

“For distinguished contributions to the field of molecular neuroscience, particularly in elucidating structural and functional aspects of neurotransmission in the central nervous system in health and disease.”

Gabriella K. Popescu, is a professor of biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Her research centers around NMDA receptors, which produce electrical currents that are essential for cognition, learning and memory. Her current eight-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health focuses on the excess activation of these receptors, which can cause pathological cellular loss in stroke, brain and spinal cord diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Popescu uses her leadership positions in national organizations to promote diversity and inclusion in academic medicine, as well as public support for the sciences. 

Thomas Russo.

Thomas Russo

“For distinguished contributions to the field of bacterial pathogenesis, and the development of therapeutics, as well as distinguished contributions as an educator of the public, schools, and businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Thomas A. Russo, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School, is an expert in infectious diseases. Russo, who cares for patients at the VA of Western New York, conducts research on gram-negative bacterial infections and antibiotic-resistant infections, and works on developing targeted vaccines and drugs. Russo led the team that discovered the first biomarkers that help identify hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumonaie, a potentially lethal pathogen that can infect healthy individuals. He is also a go-to source for national and global media, sought for his straightforward explanations of complex medical topics. 

Frederick Stoss.

Frederick W. Stoss

“For distinguished contributions in science librarianship and related realms, especially to provide scholars, students, and the general public with sound information relating to environmental issues.”

Frederick W. Stoss — and his service to the university, the library profession and the community — have been guided by a deep commitment to education, equity, access, social justice, environmental responsibility and stewardship. His 40-year career in library and information sciences includes prior experience as a research scientist in the areas of toxicology and environmental health. This rich background provided Stoss with extensive and invaluable insights that contributed to the academic success and professional and personal growth of UB faculty, students and staff in the areas of research, teaching and learning.

Janet Yang.

Janet Yang

“For distinguished contributions to the field of science communication by evaluating public risk perceptions of various diseases and environmental hazards and conveying this information to the public and researchers.”

Janet Yang, professor in the Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, studies how people perceive risks related to science, health and environmental topics. Funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, Yang’s work has revealed that many Americans did not want to get the COVID-19 and mpox vaccines because they viewed the vaccines as not sufficiently researched and therefore carry too much uncertainty, a finding that provides critical insight for vaccination messaging. She and her team have also examined risk perception in relation to climate change and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution. Currently, as part of UB's Initiative for Plastics Recycling Research and Innovation, Yang explores effective communication strategies to encourage New York State residents to recycle, reduce and reuse more effectively.