University of Rochester

Two Researchers Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 28, 2006

Two researchers, one from the University of Rochester Medical Center and another from the University of Rochester River Campus, were named as new members of the 226th class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Lynne E. Maquat, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, received the honor along with Richard Aslin, professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

The academy is an international society that elects to membership men and women of exceptional achievement from many fields. Members conduct multidisciplinary studies of social, political, and intellectual problems facing society. The studies often shape new fields of study and explore issues before their importance is recognized. Current studies are exploring how science can help improve global security, how governments and corporations can improve society, and how education can be improved from primary to university.

Maquat was honored for decades of work that has advanced the understanding of how human cells protect themselves from constant and potentially destructive changes in gene expression. According to a recent article published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the research is important because the protection itself can contribute to disease, and the ability to side-step it may lead to new treatments for hundreds of genetic disorders.

"It is a great honor and I am very excited to be elected to the academy," Maquat said. "I am grateful to have been able to train so many talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have made our lab's scientific mission worthy of notice by the academy."

Maquat has also been invited to give a presentation to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science on June 14 to 16, in Stockholm. The Swedish academy administers the Nobel prizes, including the one for chemistry, and the invitation is a prerequisite to receiving the prize. Maquat was quick to point out that, although the invitation itself is a great honor, many invitees do not go on to win the prize.

Aslin, William R. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, works toward understanding how normal development progresses in human infants and young children, ranging in age from one month to two years. His research attempts to reveal how infants make sense of the sights and sounds of the world around them, how they learn new patterns in visual scenes and streams of speech, and the brain mechanisms that enable these developments to unfold.

"To be included in such an illustrious group of scholars and historical figures is very humbling," says Aslin. "The intellectual environment of the University of Rochester and my colleagues in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences played crucial roles in advancing my career and enabling my lab to flourish."

Aslin is the director of the new Rochester Center for Brain Imaging, which uses one of the world's most powerful magnetic resonance imaging systems to plumb the physiology of the brain. Among his many honors, he has been elected a fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science, was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1988, and received the Robert and Pamela Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in the College. He also has held the posts of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and vice provost and dean of the College.

The 225-year-old American Academy of Arts & Sciences encompasses 3,700 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members and reflects the full range of disciplines: mathematics, the physical and biological sciences, medicine, the social sciences and humanities, business, government, public affairs, and the arts. Among its fellows are more than 50 Pulitzer Prize winners and 160 Nobel Prize laureates.