Three Tufts University Professors Selected as 2012 Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

November 29, 2012

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Kalimah Redd Knight

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass.—Three faculty members at Tufts University have been elected Fellows of the  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Professors Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Barbara Brodsky, and Krishna Kumar are among 702 new Fellows recognized by AAAS this year for their distinguished efforts to advance science.

"We are so pleased that the achievements of Tufts faculty in the sciences are being honored by the AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society," said Provost David R. Harris. "These scientists have ambitious research programs and it is gratifying to see them recognized for their work."

2012 Tufts University AAAS Fellows

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Biology, is recognized for her research on the development of the brain, particularly the cerebral cortex which is responsible for higher cognitive functions such as learning and memory and language. The cholinergic system influences normal early brain development, and alterations in the cholinergic system are associated with abnormal brain development connected with several developmental disorders, such as Down and Rett Syndromes.  

Berger-Sweeney is also recognized for her contributions in academic administration and leadership to enhance diversity in neuroscience.

Her honors include being recognized as one of the five most influential African-American biomedical scientists in America by the HistoryMakers, a national nonprofit research and educational organization, being named a Fellow by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, and receiving a Lifetime Mentoring Achievement Award from the Society for Neuroscience  and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.  She also served as the director for the Minority Neuroscience Fellowship Program, which provided graduate and postdoctoral fellowships to minority neuroscience students from the United States and around the world.

Barbara Brodsky, research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the School of Engineering, is being honored for her pioneering contributions to the understanding of collagen structure, function, and dysfunction. Peptide studies in the Brodsky laboratory have led to molecular resolution structures of the collagen triple-helix and definition of its stabilizing interactions. Brodsky is currently 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 and for the development of biomaterials.

Her honors include a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH Research Career Development Award, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, and Richard Harvey Teaching Award.

Krishna Kumar, chair of the Department of Chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences, is recognized for important contributions to the field of chemical biology. Molecules in living systems participate in an intricate dance where many of the partners look almost identical.  Understanding what drives one molecule to interact with another is a fundamental problem that the Kumar’s group is trying to address.  In addition, Kumar has used this concept to both image diseases before they are visible by other means, and develop therapeutics.

His honors include an Indian Society of Chemists and Biologists (ISCB) award for excellence in the area of chemical sciences, being selected a DuPont Young Professor and being named one of the top 35 young innovators in the world by MIT Technology Review magazine. He has earned a Global Indus Technovator award from MIT-IBC, the National Science Foundation CAREER award, a Technology award from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, and a BASF lectureship.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on November 30. New Fellows will be honored during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston on February 16.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education, and more.

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Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.