Public Release: 

AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute announces 2017-2018 Cohort of Public Engagement Fellows

Scientists engaging on science and society issues

American Association for the Advancement of Science

BOSTON, MASS -- AAAS is pleased to announce the selection of the 2017-18 Public Engagement Fellows. These 15 infectious disease researchers are the second cohort of the AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. They have all demonstrated leadership and excellence in their research careers, and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society. Future cohorts will focus on other areas of science, particularly topics with a science-society nexus and scholarship in related communication research.

A reception is being held on Thursday, February 16 at 4:00 pm at AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston to celebrate and welcome the new AAAS Public Engagement Fellows. New AAAS Public Engagement Fellows attending the reception include Maria Elena Bottazzi, Marcia Castro, Luis Martinez, and Haley Oliver. Several AAAS Public Engagement Fellows from the 2016-2017 cohort, focusing on climate change, will also attend the reception, including Melissa Kenney and Karen Lips.

The new AAAS Public Engagement Fellows will convene in June 2017 at AAAS headquarters in Washington, DC for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking, and public engagement plan development. After the training, AAAS Public Engagement Fellows will return to their institutions with resources and connections to develop and implement public engagement activities, opportunities for training other scientists in their communities, and increased capacity for public engagement leadership. AAAS staff will provide ongoing support and continuing professional development throughout their fellowship year.

The 2017-2018 AAAS Public Engagement Fellows are as follows; a short biography for each Fellow is attached:

  • Maria Elena Bottazzi, PhD, Associate Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine

  • Danielle Buttke, DVM, PhD, MPH, Acting Epidemiology Branch Chief and One Health Coordinator, National Park Service

  • Marcia Castro, PhD, Associate Professor of Demography, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  • Sheena Cruickshank, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Immunology and Academic Lead for Public Engagement, University of Manchester

  • Meghan Duffy, PhD, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan

  • Kacey Ernst, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of Arizona College of Public Health

  • Patricia Garcez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anatomy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

  • Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kentucky

  • Christine Johnston, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Washington

  • Karen Levy, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Environmental Health, Emory University

  • Luis Martinez, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences, New York Institute of Technology

  • Haley Oliver, PhD, Associate Professor of Food Science, Purdue University

  • Ina Park, MD, Medical Consultant, Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Medical Director, California Prevention Training Center

  • Brad Spellberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center; Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine

  • Anthony Wilson, PhD, Group Leader, Integrative Entomology Group, The Pirbright Institute

AAAS is highly encouraged by the interest in the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute. The 15 AAAS Public Engagement Fellows selected, and the many others who applied, demonstrate clear commitment from scientists and researchers within the infectious disease research community to engage the public on many critical issues. The AAAS Public Engagement Fellows program, now in its second year, continues to build on the long-standing commitment of AAAS to science communication and public engagement through its support of these Fellows.

The Leshner Leadership Institute has been established wholly by philanthropic support: as of December 1, 2016, gifts ranging from $20 to $100,000 have combined to exceed $500,000 and fund the Institute for its first five years. The Institute is managed by the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, established in 2004 by Alan I. Leshner, now Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of AAAS.

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About AAAS

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, Science Signaling, and a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 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. 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, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, http://www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS. See http://www.aaas.org.

AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society, dedicated to "Advancing science ? Serving society."

Profiles of the AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute 2017-2018 Public Engagement Fellows Infectious Disease Cohort

  • Maria Elena Bottazzi, PhD Associate Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine

    Maria Elena Bottazzi leads the research, education and administration efforts of the school, is a Professor of Pediatric Tropical Medicine and the Deputy Director for the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. An internationally-recognized scientist with more than 16 years of experience in translational immunoparasitology research and vaccine development for neglected tropical diseases, Bottazzi's major interest lies in the role of vaccines as control tools integrated into international public and global health programs and initiatives. She earned her PhD in 1995 from the University of Florida.

  • Danielle Buttke, DVM, PhD, MPH Acting Epidemiology Branch Chief and One Health Coordinator, National Park Service

    Danielle Buttke is one of two epidemiologists for the National Park Service and specializes in zoonotic disease and ecological drivers of infectious disease. Prior to joining the National Park Service, she served as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. Buttke is interested in using public interest in personal health as a way to increase support for public green space, and enhancing public understanding of how human actions can drive infectious disease spread through a variety of avenues including school programs, websites, and smart phone apps. Buttke earned her DVM/PhD from Cornell University in 2010.

  • Marcia Castro, PhD Associate Professor of Demography, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

    Marcia Castro's research focuses on infectious diseases (particularly mosquito borne), environmental change and health, environmental management for vector control, spatial patterns of disease transmission, and infant & child mortality. More specifically, she focuses on the development and use of multidisciplinary approaches, combining data from different sources, to identify the determinants of disease transmission in different ecological settings, providing evidence for the improvement of current control policies, as well as the development of new ones. Castro earned her PhD in Demography from Princeton University in 2002.

  • Sheena Cruickshank, PhD Senior Lecturer in Immunology and Academic Lead for Public Engagement, University of Manchester

    Sheena Cruickshank's work focuses on understanding how immune responses in the gut are initiated and controlled following infection and/or inflammation. Her major scientific contributions have centered on defining the importance of mononuclear phagocyte function in resistance to infection and inflammation, defining the interaction of pathogens and commensal bacteria with epithelial cells in homeostasis and inflammation, and experimental reproducibility. In 2009, Cruickshank co-created the Worm Wagon, an interactive program that merges art and science activities to promote awareness of parasitic worm infection. Cruickshank aims to promote infection awareness and enable access to science for all including Manchester's non-native English speakers, and to work with communities to understand allergies and the impacts of pollution via citizen science (#BritainBreathing). She also serves as the Public Engagement Secretary for the British Society for Immunology. Cruickshank earned her PhD in Mucosal Immunology in 1998 from the University of Leeds.

  • Meghan Duffy, PhD Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan

    Meghan Duffy is a disease ecologist whose research focuses on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, especially in aquatic ecosystems. Her research aims to understand how disease outbreaks start, why they end, and the factors that determine their severity. Duffy's work has been recognized by a National Science Foundation CAREER award, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America, and by the Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). Duffy earned her PhD in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior from Michigan State University in 2006.

  • Kacey Ernst, PhD, MPH Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of Arizona College of Public Health

    Kacey Ernst's primary research interests are in determining how human-environment interactions alter risk of vector-borne disease transmission. She specifically focuses on questions surrounding the emergence of Aedes-borne viruses such as dengue and Zika in the U.S.-Mexico border region and the development and uptake of sustainable control strategies for malaria in western Kenya. Recently, she partnered with the Centers for Disease Control to develop Kidenga, a community-based surveillance mobile application that is intended to educate communities and provide early warning of pathogen emergence. She has presented to the public in a wide range of forums on her research and the impact of climate change on human health. Ernst earned her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan in 2006.

  • Patricia Garcez, PhD Assistant Professor of Anatomy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

    Patricia Garcez examines the cellular and molecular effects of Zika virus congenital syndrome during brain development. She earned her PhD in 2008 from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Garcez has been involved in numerous public engagement events such as Science Busking at Barbican Center, the Institute Open Day for teachers and students, and visiting local schools representing the Francis Crick Institute. Garcez focuses her efforts on empowering the Brazilian public with information about the Zika virus through numerous TV, radio, newspaper and blog interviews about her research.

  • Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova, PhD Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kentucky

    Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova's research aims to understand and combat bacterial and fungal resistance by using tools from medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and structural biology. She is an Associate Editor for MedChemComm (a journal from the Royal Society of Chemistry) and is an editorial board member for American Chemical Society Infectious Diseases and for the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Garneau-Tsodikova is the Founder of SciCats, "Science cultivates academically talented students", an outreach program for elementary and high school students. She earned her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Alberta in 2003 and performed her postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School until 2006.

  • Christine Johnston, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Washington

    Christine Johnston is a physician-scientist at the University of Washington. She is board-certificated in internal medicine and infectious diseases and provides primary care to patients with HIV infection. Johnston's clinical research focuses on the natural history and pathobiology of genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. She is interested in novel therapies to prevent and manage HSV infection, such as antiviral agents and vaccines. In addition, Johnston is the Medical Director of the University of Washington Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention Training Center, which educates health care providers about prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Johnston earned her MD from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2001.

  • Karen Levy, PhD, MPH Associate Professor of Environmental Health, Emory University

    Karen Levy's work explores how environmental factors affect the transmission and incidence of infectious diseases, focusing on the ecology and epidemiology of food- and water-borne diseases. Levy leads projects in both international and domestic study sites, including studies on transmission of diarrheal pathogens, household water quality, climate and waterborne disease, the spread of antibiotic resistance, the gut microbiome, and safety of agricultural irrigation water. Levy earned her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley in 2007 and has since published several op-eds and news stories in major media outlets and served as a Public Voices fellow at Emory in 2012-14.

  • Luis Martinez, PhD, MBA Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences, New York Institute of Technology

    Luis Martinez studies the interactions of infectious microbes with the immune system, focusing on fungal and bacterial infections affecting immunocompromised individuals. He is a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM)'s Communication Committee and actively involved in science communication, from colleagues to the general public. He is also a member of the ASM's committee on issues impacting under-represented minorities and particularly interested in engaging this population into the scientific dialogue. He is an advocate of scientific citizenship and involved on diversity issues in the natural sciences and medicine. Martinez earned his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2006 and has completed scholarly work at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.

  • Haley Oliver, PhD Associate Professor of Food Science, Purdue University

    Haley Oliver's current research focuses on prevalence, persistence, and transmission of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella in retail food systems. Oliver teaches Food Microbiology, Food Plant Sanitation, Graduate Food Microbiology, and Scientific Writing courses at Purdue University. She earned the USDA Food and Agriculture Science Excellence in Teaching Award for New Teachers in 2014 and the Larry Beuchat Young Scientist Award in 2016. Since receiving her PhD in Food Science from Cornell University in 2009, Oliver has worked with industry and government to development of practical and feasible control strategies aimed to reduce cross-contamination. Since 2012, Oliver and her colleagues have been working to develop a food technology undergraduate program at Herat University in Afghanistan aimed to improve food safety, quality, and security sponsored by USAID.

  • Ina Park, MD Medical Consultant, Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Medical Director, California Prevention Training Center

    Ina Park is a medical epidemiologist with a passion for empowering and informing others about sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention. Her research interests include evaluation of serologic assays for diagnosis of syphilis and assessing the population-level impact of human papillomavirus vaccination. In 2012 she was recognized with the Young Investigator of the Year Award by the American STD Association, and recently served as a contributing author for the 2015 CDC STD Treatment Guidelines. She is currently writing a narrative non-fiction book for the lay public on STD and HIV prevention entitled "CLAP: The Science of Sex and its Least Intended Consequences". Park earned her MD in 2001 from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and completed her residency in Family Medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Brad Spellberg, MD Chief Medical Officer, Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center; Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine

    Brad Spellberg's research interests are diverse, ranging from basic immunology and vaccinology, to pure clinical and outcomes research, to process improvement work related to delivery of care, focusing on safety net hospitals. His laboratory research has focused on developing a vaccine that targets the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and the fungus Candida; the vaccine is undergoing clinical development. Spellberg is currently working on the immunology, vaccinology, and host defense against highly resistant Gram negative bacilli, including Acinetobacter and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae infections. He authored "Rising Plague", which he wrote to inform and educate the public about the crisis in antibiotic resistant infections and lack of antibiotic development. Spellberg earned his MD from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in 1999 and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

  • Anthony Wilson, PhD Group Leader, Integrative Entomology Group, The Pirbright Institute

    Anthony Wilson leads the Integrative Entomology group at The Pirbright Institute in the UK, studying the ability of insects (particularly mosquitoes) and ticks to transmit viruses and how this is affected by the environment. He has contributed opinions as an expert on vector-borne disease emergence for the European Food Safety Authority and the Global Strategic Alliances for the Coordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses (STAR-IDAZ), is a member of the MACSUR European network on the impacts of climate change on food production via disease ecology, and is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. He is also a core member of Pirbright's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, a site union representative and sits on the national panel for the Athena SWAN Charter awards, which recognize employer commitments to gender equality. Wilson earned his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2008.

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