AAAS Recognition

Two CAFNR plant scientists earn fellowship honors

Two CAFNR scientists were recently elected as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Mel Oliver.

Mel Oliver, adjunct professor of plant sciences and a supervisory research geneticist at the USDA-ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit, and Shuqun Zhang, professor of Biochemistry, will be formally recognized at the AAAS Annual Meeting Feb. 16 in Boston.

Shuqun Zhang.

Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.  AAAS is an international organization dedicated to advancing science by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. AAAS publishes the journal Science.

Oliver’s research includes understanding how plants tolerate dehydration, identifying genetic mechanisms for improving drought tolerance of maize, and developing genomic and germplasm resources for desiccation-tolerant plants.

Oliver, with the backing of the American Society of Plant Biologists, established the Global Plant Council, a not-for-profit organization that brings together the plant science societies from across the world to give a plant science perspective to global issues of food security, human health, climate change, bioenergy, and environmental protection and sustainability.

Zhang’s research involves how plants respond to environmental stimuli.  By understanding, at molecular and cellular levels, how plants protect themselves under adverse environmental conditions, such as a pathogen attack, he hopes to identify ways to genetically engineer crops with enhanced disease resistance.

In 2002, Zhang was presented a CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation.  This is one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards which supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

Oliver and Zhang are members of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group.  “These new elections bring the total of IPG members who are AAAS Fellows to 19, an outstanding reflection on the excellence of plant science at MU,” said Robert Sharp, plant sciences professor and IPG director.

In total, six faculty members from the University of Missouri were honored as Fellows this year.