National science association recognizes 6 UC Berkeley faculty

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Six UC Berkeley faculty members have been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, for their efforts to advance scientific research and its applications.

Faculty members Ronald Cohen, Mark D’Esposito, Marla Feller, Alison Gopnik, Robert Knight and Paul Renne were elected to the AAAS along with 390 other scientists in October. AAAS actively works to promote scientific research awareness to the general public, according to Renne, a campus professor in residence of earth and planetary science.

Unlike other scientific organizations that acknowledge scientists for a particular subject, campus chemistry professor Cohen said, the AAAS selects fellows based on excellence across a broad range of scientific fields.

The Fellows Forum, a formal event to recognize the new electees, will take place Feb. 17, 2018, at the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, according to the AAAS website. The fellows will also be recognized in the upcoming issue of Science magazine, which will be released this Friday.

Renne was elected to the association for his research in geochronology, in which he studies the ages and history of rocks and other earth materials in order to learn more about the effects of global crises such as meteor strikes and volcanic eruptions.

“One thing that might set me apart is that I have chosen to focus on events that are especially important by some measure,” Renne said. “It’s nice to know that one’s peers think highly of you.”

An example of Renne’s studies that he referred to as “especially important” is the extinction of the dinosaurs, which he has been researching for the past five to seven years.

Cohen was also appointed for his contributions in furthering the scientific community’s understanding of chemistry in Earth’s atmosphere.

“Their recognition is for my influence of the body of work that I’ve done in the field of atmospheric chemistry. That includes a variety of things that I’ve published and accomplished,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, he and his colleagues observe which chemicals are present in the atmosphere, how they get there and how they are removed. By doing this, Cohen said, he seeks to find a better understanding for climate change, air pollution and the effects of industrialization on the environment.

Aside from being distinguished among other scientists, the recognition from his colleagues is what makes this accomplishment truly fulfilling, Cohen said.

As an AAAS fellow and a scientist, Cohen said he looks forward to continuing his research and being a mentor for aspiring graduate and undergraduate students looking toward pursuing careers in chemistry.

“I look forward to using this honor to continue to represent the values that good science brings to our understanding and to help people understand how they can use science to make good choices and understand the world around them,” Cohen said.

Contact Mark Henry Salupen at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @salupen_markdc.