JANUARY 26, 2022 — Three senior faculty members from The University of Texas at San Antonio were elected as 2021 Fellows for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They are James Chambers (Molecular Microbiology and Immunology), Aimin Liu (Chemistry) and Angela Speck (Physics & Astronomy), all from the UTSA College of Sciences.
Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society. The tradition of electing AAAS Fellows began in 1874 to recognize members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Elected by the Council of the AAAS, these UTSA researchers were chosen for their efforts to advance science in their designated disciplines.
“I am excited and proud that this honor will be bestowed on our three College of Sciences colleagues. Each of them are exemplars of our COS faculty excellence in the areas of science advocacy, impactful research, and student training at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said David Silva, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences.
James Chambers, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. An established biochemist of long standing with national and international recognized expertise, he specializes in the enzymology of inherited lysosomal storage diseases, glyconjugate characterization, receptor mediated channel function, and biosensor sensing element development. He is a member of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. In 1992, Chambers implemented the first free-standing Ph.D. program at UTSA and trained its first two students. Chambers is being honored for “distinguished development of threat agent detection, innovative contributions to the understanding of Francisella tularensis, and the promotion of scholarship and scientific discovery in teaching and public outreach.
Aimin Liu, Ph.D., is the Lutcher Brown Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry. His research group studies metalloprotein-based biological processes and chemical mechanisms. Liu has contributed to understanding oxygen activation by metalloenzymes and protein-based free radicals in electron/radical transfer processes in chemistry and biology. The chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics communities appreciate his interdisciplinary and highly productive research program, which has been well-supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Liu is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the fields of structural and mechanistic enzymology, particularly the chemistry of tryptophan metabolism, protein-derived cofactor biosynthesis, and charge resonance stabilization in the generation of protein radicals.
Angela Speck, Ph.D., is a professor of astrophysics and chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy. She specializes in infrared astronomy and the study of space dust including many aspects of material ejected by dying stars. She is co-chair of the National Total Solar Eclipse Task Force, and she served as chair the User Committee of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and a member of the American Astronomical Society Council. Speck is being honored for “distinguished contributions to interdisciplinary understanding of the effects of stardust across our cosmos, as well as for extensive service to the astronomy community and in exceptional public outreach.
“The election of these best-in-class academics and researchers positions our institution in being recognized as a premier, discovery-focused, research institution. This election, by our peers, is one of the pinnacles of a researcher’s career,” added Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA vice president for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise.
The nominations were sponsored by current fellows and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise.
Chambers, Liu, and Speck will be formally inducted in-person at a future AAAS annual meeting.
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