Penn State scientists honored by AAAS

December 06, 2005

University Park, Pa. -- Four Penn State faculty members have been elected to the rank of Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The honorees are: Stephen J. Beckerman, associate professor of cultural anthropology, the College of the Liberal Arts; Daniel Larson, the Verne M. Willaman dean of the Eberly College of Science; Barbara J. Rolls, professor and the Helen A. Guthrie chair of nutritional sciences, College of Health and Human Development; and Ayusman Sen, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry, Eberly College of Science.

Each year, the AAAS Council elects members whose "efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin during the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

Beckerman is recognized "for distinguished contributions to the elucidation of the underlying causes of violence between humans and of the effects of familial relationships in survival."

His interests in ecological anthropology led to research on neotropical forest subsistence practices, warfare on and among tribal peoples, and human reproductive strategies. The majority of his fieldwork has been with the Bari people of the Maracaibo Basin, Columbia/Venezuela, and the Waorani people of the Napo Basin, Ecuador. One of his recent investigations explored partible paternity, the widespread belief that a child can have more than one biological father, and its consequences for child survivorship. Another modeled the conditions under which tribal peoples conserve their wild resources. His major current research is directed at the evolutionary ecology of tribal warfare.

Larson's citation cites his distinguished research, professional and academic contributions to the advancement of physics. He is a leader in physics education at the graduate and undergraduate levels, as well as an accomplished researcher in experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics. He had focused on using the special characteristics of negative ions to study processes and properties of general importance in atomic, molecular and optical physics.

Rolls is recognized by AAAS for "seminal research on thirst mechanisms and for innovative studies on the effects of variety, macronutrients, energy density and portion size on eating behavior and body weight."

Her interests in ingestive behavior and obesity led to research on the control of food intake, the impact of portion size on food intake and the energy density of foods and its relationship to overweight and obesity. In 2003, she was awarded honorary membership in the American Dietetic Association and is the recipient of a MERIT award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for outstanding research. She is the author of five books including "Thirst," "The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories" and "The Volumetrics Eating Plan." She is on the editorial board of Appetite and in the past has served on the editorial boards of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Obesity Research, The American Journal of Physiology, Trends in Food Science and Technology, and Nutrition Reviews.

Sen is being honored for "distinguished contributions to organometallic and polymer chemistry and catalysis, particularly for the discovery of novel oxidation and polymerization systems and synthetic catalytic nanomotors."

His research encompasses the twin themes of catalysis and new materials, with the goal of developing new metal catalysts that will enable the synthesis of polymers and related materials with novel combinations of properties.

Sen is exploring ways to form polymer nanofibers with controlled orientation and structure. He is developing antimicrobial polymers for surface coatings and cell-transfection polymers that can be used in drug delivery. He also is interested in developing miniature "engines" that could provide power for micromotors and nanomotors through catalytic reactions.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.

Last Updated July 28, 2017