University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Three scientists named AAAS fellows

Chemist Richard Eisenberg, biochemist Fred Sherman, and neuroscientist David Williams have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest federation of scientists. Their distinguished contributions will be recognized formally in February at the annual meeting of the association in St. Louis.


Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry, is being honored for his contributions to the fields of inorganic and organometallic chemistry as a researcher, teacher, leader, and mentor. He is the recipient of many professional honors, awards, appointments, and elected positions, including the 2003 American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in Inorganic Chemistry. The group of chemists he leads is engaged in a number of projects involving organometallic and metal complex chemistry of the platinum group elements.

The editor-in-chief of the journal Inorganic Chemistry, the most often cited journal in its field, Eisenberg began teaching at Rochester in 1973, was named professor of chemistry in 1976, and served as chair of the department from 1991 to 1994. He was named Tracy Harris Professor in 1996.


Sherman, professor of biochemistry at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, was elected to the rank of AAAS fellow "for using the cytochrome c as a model system in yeast to elucidate many general principles, including initiation and termination of translation and protein acetylation." Sherman's work has uncovered principles that involve the genetic code, translation, and protein degradation. Considered one of the founding fathers of yeast molecular biology, his current research is directed toward understanding protein modifications and degradation of mRNA in the nucleus.

Sherman has chaired or contributed to numerous scientific groups, received many awards, and has written more than 250 articles and book chapters on molecular biology and the genetics of yeast. He arrived in Rochester in 1961 as an instructor of radiation biology and biophysics, later was named professor of biophysics in 1971 and of biochemistry in 1982, and served as chair of the Department of Biochemistry or the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics from 1982 to 1999. Since 1985, he has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, is the creator of technology that allows high resolution imaging in living human retina, which has led to dramatic discoveries about human vision. He is the director of the Center for Visual Science. His primary faculty appointment is in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and he holds secondary appointments in the Institute of Optics, the Department of Ophthalmology, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

AAAS is honoring Williams for the development of new methods to overcome optical defects in the human eye that "allowed the first images of the intact living human retina at a microscopic spatial scale and clarified the optical and neural limits of human spatial and color vision." The optical system developed by Williams and his researchers has given research subjects an unprecedented quality of eyesight and also has revealed information that may lead to better diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.

Williams has authored more than 100 scientific articles and is the holder of eight patents. He has been honored by the Optical Society of America, among others, and will receive the Friedenwald Award in recognition of his studies on human optics, human cone receptors, and color vision from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in 2006. Williams joined the University in 1981 as assistant professor of psychology and was named Allyn Professor of Medical Optics in 1997.

Founded in 1848, AAAS works to advance science for human well-being through its more than 138,000 members. The tradition of honoring those members who have excelled in their chosen fields began in 1874. AAAS publishes the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science.

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