University of Rochester

John Werren and Lawrence Tabak Named AAAS Fellows

November 18, 1997

University of Rochester faculty members Lawrence Tabak and John Werren are among 270 academics named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 1997.

Tabak, professor of dental research, biochemistry, and biophysics, and Werren, professor of biology, both joined the Rochester faculty in 1986. Each will receive AAAS's gold and blue rosette pin, representing science and engineering, in February at the group's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Werren is well known for his pioneering research in evolution, particularly the evolution of microbe-host interactions and the roles of microbes that can be passed from generation to generation in their hosts. To extend scientists' knowledge of evolution, Werren focuses on interactions between insects like Nasonia, a class of three intricately related species of wasps, and microorganisms such as Wolbachia, a widespread group of bacteria whose presence leads to reproductive incompatibility in its insect hosts and which may play a role in the formation of new insect species. Werren brings together genetic, molecular, and population approaches in his studies.

A 1995 Humboldt Research Award from the Bonn-based Alexander von Humboldt Foundation recognized Werren's lifelong research contributions in evolutionary genetics. Werren, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, serves as associate editor of both Evolution and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. He teaches a course on animal behavior and an advanced course in evolution and ecology.

Tabak is an authority on the saliva and salivary glands that help keep the mouth disease-free. He studies how saliva is produced, the molecular regulation of the salivary glands, and the properties of saliva. His work to produce artificial saliva might also help the roughly three million Americans, including large numbers of post-menopausal women and chemotherapy patients, who suffer from salivary gland disorders. Inadequate saliva production can lead to severe cavities, the formation of ulcers inside the mouth, and even malnutrition if sufferers have difficulty eating and swallowing.

Tabak, who holds doctoral degrees from SUNY Buffalo and Columbia University, was named the 1997 Alumnus of the Year by Columbia's School of Dental and Oral Surgery. Last year, he won the International Association for Dental Research's Distinguished Scientist Award in Salivary Research. Tabak has served as primary adviser to some 20 graduate students at Rochester, and has won several teaching awards for his graduate courses on topics including complex carbohydrates, research ethics, and oral health.

AAAS, founded in 1848, is the world's largest science and engineering federation, with over 144,000 members. AAAS fellows are selected annually for their efforts on behalf of the advancement of science.