Public Release:  7 Texas A&M professors elected AAAS Fellows

Texas A&M University

Seven Texas A&M University faculty have been named 2013 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Texas A&M representatives among this year's 388-member class, along with departmental affiliation and citation, include:

  • Nancy M. Amato (Department of Computer Science and Engineering), for contributions to the algorithmic foundations of motion planning, computational biology, computational geometry and parallel computing.

  • Perla Beatriz Balbuena (Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering), for distinguished contributions to the theory of interfacial processes, through molecular simulation of electrochemical reactions and materials properties at the nanoscale.

  • Raymond J. Carroll (Department of Statistics), for preeminent research on statistical theory and methods and their applications to medical science, and for excellence in teaching and in service to professional societies.

  • Jonathan C. Coopersmith (Department of History), for distinguished contributions to the history and philosophy of science and technology, as well as for dedicated leadership to the AAAS Section on History and Philosophy of Science.

  • Bani K. Mallick (Department of Statistics), for distinguished contributions to the field of Bayesian modeling and computation with application to different scientific fields, for leadership in promoting statistical science, and for service to the profession.

  • H. Joseph Newton (Department of Statistics), for contributions in statistical space-time methodology, in computational statistics, in introducing computer technology in teaching, and for many years of extraordinarily successful science higher education administration.

  • Matthew S. Sachs (Department of Biology), for genetic and molecular elucidation of mechanisms governing eukaryotic translation involving the ribosome, including translational attenuation and the roles of upstream open reading frames.

This year's AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the "AAAS News & Notes" section of the Nov. 29 edition of the journal Science. In addition, each will be presented with an official certificate and gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pins in a Saturday, Feb. 15 ceremony at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

"It is highly gratifying to have Dean Newton and the six other members of our faculty receive this high honor bestowed by AAAS, one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world," said Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin. "The 'fellows' designation is well deserved by all seven of these exceptional individuals as a recognition of their academic accomplishments, and it certainly reflects well on our university. On behalf of the entire Texas A&M family, I heartily congratulate each one of them and thank them for helping make Texas A&M even better known for the excellence of its teaching, research and service."

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association's 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members -- so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution -- or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

Brief biographies for the 2013 Texas A&M AAAS Fellows are included below:

Nancy M. Amato is the Unocal Professor and interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She is co-director of the Parasol Lab. Amato received undergraduate degrees in mathematical sciences and economics from Stanford University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was an AT&T Bell Laboratories Ph.D. scholar and a recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. She is an IEEE Fellow and was a distinguished lecturer for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (2006-07). She also serves as a Distinguished Speaker for the ACM Distinguished Speakers Program. Her main areas of research focus are motion planning and robotics, computational biology and geometry, and parallel and distributed computing. Current representative projects include the development of a new technique for modeling molecular motions (such as protein folding), investigation of new strategies for crowd control and simulation, and STAPL, a parallel C++ library enabling the development of efficient, portable parallel programs.

Perla Beatriz Balbuena is the GPSA Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses on understanding and predicting thermodynamic, transport and kinetic properties of materials using state-of-the-art first principles computational chemistry and physics methods. Her work centers on design of nanomaterials used as catalysts and electrolytes in power sources devices such as lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells. She has contributed to an improved design of power sources such as lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, and to the development of new materials for catalytic processes. Balbuena's work with lithium-ion batteries -- used in laptop computers, cell phones and electric vehicles -- involves introducing components that are less toxic and work more efficiently than those currently used. Her work with fuel cells, called the power source of the future, involves studying how reactions take place on the surface of the nanocatalytic particles to improve the cells' efficiency and cost. Other current projects include the design of new nanomaterials for gas separation processes and renewal energy devices. Balbuena joined the Texas A&M chemical engineering department as a professor in 2004. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Universidad Tecnologica Nacional in Argentina, a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, all in chemical engineering.

Raymond J. Carroll is a distinguished professor in the Department of Statistics and a member of the faculties of nutrition and toxicology. He is director of the Institute for Applied Mathematics and Computational Statistics (IAMCS) and founding director of the Center for Statistical Bioinformatics. He is one of the world's leading experts on problems of measurement error, statistical regression modeling and, more recently, statistical methods in genomics. He is perhaps most recognized for his founding of the area of nonlinear measurement error modeling, with applications to nutritional and radiation epidemiology. Carroll earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Purdue University and spent 13 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prior to joining the Texas A&M Statistics faculty in 1987. He has authored more than 360 scientific publications in a variety of statistical areas, with research applications that span the gamut of multidisciplinary -- from marine biology and molecular biology in nutrition to genetic epidemiology and econometrics. A two-time Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research winner (2004, 1994), Carroll's many honors include a National Cancer Institute Method to Extend Research In Time (MERIT) Award (2005), the National Institute of Statistical Sciences' Jerome Sacks Award for Multidisciplinary Research (2003), the International Society for Bayesian Analysis' Mitchell Prize (2003), the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies' Fisher Award and Lecture (2002) and President's Award (1988) and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award (1996).

Jonathan C. Coopersmith is an associate professor in the Department of History who specializes in the history of technology as well as the history of Russia and of the Soviet Union. He earned his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1985 and was a visiting assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University prior to joining the Texas A&M faculty in 1988. A prolific author, Coopersmith has written and edited two books, numerous articles, multiple book reviews and a variety of op-eds on topics ranging from science and technology to politics and space travel. Coopersmith recently completed an eight-year stint as secretary of the AAAS Section on History and Philosophy of Science (2004-12), serving the past seven as a representative of the History of Science Society to the aforementioned AAAS section. In addition, he is a reviewer of proposals for the NSF Science, Technology and Society Program and a reviewer of manuscripts for a host of academic presses, including Cambridge University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, MIT Press, Oxford University Press, Rutgers University Press, Smithsonian Institution Press and Texas A&M University Press as well as the "Journal of Military History," the IEEE Press, "Metascience" and the NASA History Office. He serves on the editorial board for the "International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology" and as an executive committee member of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), for which he has served since 1994 as chair of the Jovians (electrical technology) interest group. Locally, Coopersmith has served in the Texas A&M Faculty Senate since 2009 and is a current member of the group's executive committee. He is co-founder and a past president/officer of the Texas A&M University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Bani K. Mallick is a distinguished professor in the Department of Statistics and director of both the Center for Statistical Bioinformatics and the Bayesian Modeling Laboratory. He is considered one of today's most influential and productive statisticians as a pioneering researcher in the field of Bayesian nonparametric regression and classification. He joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1998 four years after receiving his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Connecticut. One of his major contributions is a publication widely used as both a resource and a textbook, Bayesian Methods of Nonlinear Classification and Regression, which is regarded as one of the definitive works on Bayesian nonlinear classification and regression. Mallick is equally renowned for his ability to do major collaborative research with scientists from myriad fields beyond his own, including bioinformatics, nuclear engineering, veterinary medicine, petroleum engineering, industrial engineering, traffic mapping, mechanical engineering, superfund hazardous waste sites and civil engineering. He often develops novel methodology and theory that is essential for sound scientific research in these collaborations and has seven currently funded research grants to support such endeavors. Mallick has authored and edited six books and many research publications. A fellow of the American Statistical Association (2005), Institute of Mathematical Statistics (2008) and Royal Statistical Society (1996), Mallick also is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (1999). He has been honored with the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the Indian Statistical Association (2007) as well as a Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research (2007).

H. Joseph Newton is a professor in the Department of Statistics, dean of the Texas A&M College of Science and the inaugural holder of the George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Chair in Statistics. A member of the Texas A&M faculty since 1978, Newton has served as dean of the College of Science and holder of the Richard H. Harrison III/External Advisory & Development Council Endowed Dean's Chair in Science since July 2002. Prior to that appointment, he spent two years as interim dean, two years as executive associate dean and eight years as head of the Department of Statistics. A native of Syracuse, Newton holds a doctorate in statistical sciences and a master of arts in statistics from the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. He earned his bachelor of science in mathematics from Niagara University. He has authored numerous research articles and two books in the areas of time series analysis, computational statistics and technology-mediated instruction. Elected as a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1995, Newton continues to serve as the first and only editor of "The Stata Journal," which he and a few colleagues created 14 years ago. In addition to being recognized with the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Administration in 2005, Newton has twice been honored with the same award in teaching at the college level and continues to mentor graduate students in disciplines across the university.

Matthew S. Sachs is a professor in the Department of Biology, where his research focuses on better understanding two key areas of biology: post-transcriptional control mechanisms vital to gene expression and fungal biology at the whole-genome level. He earned his Ph.D. in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986, then completed a four-year American Cancer Society postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University. In the decades since, Sachs' laboratory has made breakthrough discoveries involving peptides and their roles in stalling protein synthesis as well as synthesis rates of core components of the circadian clock, which governs a host of vital processes in many organisms, including humans. He joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2007 after 17 years at Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, where he was one of the principal investigators for a National Science Foundation-funded project that obtained the first genome sequence of a filamentous fungus in 2003. In addition, he is a co-PI on a subsequent National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project (P01) grant to further study the fungus Neurospora crassa -- research he developed into a capstone research program course for Texas A&M biology majors. A current member of the Neurospora Policy Committee, Sachs has served since 1999 as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Fungal Genetics Stock Center and on the editorial boards for several journals, including "Eukaryotic Cell," "Fungal Genetics and Biology," "G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics" and "Translation." His teaching awards include a college-level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011. Beyond the lab and classroom, he photographs sports for and teaches yoga.


For more on the American Association for the Advancement of Science, visit

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents annual expenditures of more than $776 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit

About the American Association for the Advancement of Science: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news website, a service of AAAS.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.