Six professors at Illinois named 2012 AAAS fellows

Six faculty members at the University of Illinois have been named 2012 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: animal biology professor Chi-Hing Christina Cheng, electrical and computer engineering professor Kent Choquette, psychology professor Neal Cohen, chemistry professor So Hirata, anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and physics professor Philip Phillips.

Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon members of the association by their peers. This year, 702 members were elevated to the rank of fellow in recognition of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

“This year’s class of AAAS fellows reflects the diversity of fields in which Illinois shines,” said Phyllis M. Wise, the chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus. “From anthropology, psychology and animal biology to engineering, chemistry and physics, our faculty members are clearly recognized as leaders in their disciplines, as researchers and as educators.”

Cheng was selected for her “distinguished contributions to the field of molecular evolution, focusing on molecular mechanisms that lead to the creation of novel genes and adaptive protein functions under environmental extremes.”

Choquette, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, was honored for his “distinguished contributions to the science and technology of semiconductor vertical cavity surface emitting lasers.”

Cohen, a researcher at the Beckman Institute, the director of the Neuroscience Program and of the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory, was recognized for his “pioneering research on memory and amnesia, distinguishing brain systems and psychological characteristics that distinguish declarative and procedural memory.”

Hirata was selected for “distinguished contributions to the development and implementation of electronic and vibrational many-body theories with periodic boundary conditions to predict the properties of matter in condensed state.”

Lucero was honored for “distinguished service in the field of archaeology, with emphasis on the role of water management in Maya society and its contemporary implications.”

Phillips was chosen for “distinguished contributions to theoretical condensed matter physics, including the developments of the random dimer model and the concept of ‘Mottness.’ ”

The election of AAAS fellows began in 1874. This year’s fellows will be recognized during the AAAS annual meeting in Boston in February. AAAS, which publishes the journal Science, was founded in 1848; it is the world’s largest general scientific society.