In Brief

Three Professors Elected Fellows of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Barbara Brodsky and Krishna Kumar are among those recognized for pioneering work
November 29, 2012

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Three faculty members at Tufts have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Professors Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Barbara Brodsky and Krishna Kumar are among 702 new fellows recognized by AAAS this year for their efforts to advance science. They are elected by current fellows of the AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society.

“We are so pleased that the achievements of Tufts faculty in the sciences are being honored by the AAAS,” says Provost David R. Harris. “These scientists have ambitious research programs, and it is gratifying to see them recognized for their work.”

This year’s AAAS fellows were formally announced in the journal Science on Nov. 30. New fellows will be honored during the 2013 AAAS annual meeting in Boston on Feb. 16.

Berger-Sweeney, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology, conducts research on the development of the brain, particularly the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher cognitive functions such as learning, memory and language. She has looked closely at the cholinergic system of nerve cells, which influences normal early brain development. Alterations in that system are associated with abnormal brain development connected with several developmental disorders, such as Down and Rett syndromes. AAAS also honored Berger-Sweeney for her contributions in academic administration and leadership to enhance diversity in neuroscience.

She has been recognized as one of the five most influential African-American biomedical scientists in America by the HistoryMakers, a national nonprofit research and educational organization, and received a Lifetime Mentoring Achievement Award from the Society for Neuroscience and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award. She served as director of the Society for Neuroscience’s Minority Neuroscience Fellowship Program, which provides graduate and postdoctoral fellowships to minority neuroscience students.

Brodsky, a research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has made pioneering contributions to the understanding of collagen structure, function and dysfunction. She is seeking to clarify the pathway from human collagen mutations to hereditary bone disorders, kidney disease and vascular pathology. She is studying the use of the recombinant collagen system as a scaffold to promote bone generation by human stem cells.

She is the recipient of a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH Research Career Development Award, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Richard Harvey Teaching Award.

Kumar, chair of the Department of Chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences, was recognized for important contributions to the field of chemical biology. Molecules in living systems participate in an intricate dance in which many of the partners look almost identical. Understanding what drives one molecule to interact with another is a fundamental problem that Kumar’s research group is exploring.

His honors include an Indian Society of Chemists and Biologists Award for Excellence in the chemical sciences, a DuPont Young Professorship and inclusion among the top 35 young innovators in the world by Technology Review magazine. He has earned a Global Indus Technovator Award from MIT-IBC, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and a technology award from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center.