Three UNC Researchers Named AAAS Fellows

New Fellows Honored for Advances in Cancer and Virology, Autism, and Biomolecular Recognition

Marcey Waters
Marcey Waters

Professors Blossom Damania, Marcey Waters and Mark Zylka of UNC-Chapel Hill have each been named a fellow by the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

The three Carolina researchers are among 396 new fellows being recognized by their peers for their distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications.

Professor Damania (UNC School of Medicine) is being honored for landmark discoveries and contributions to biomedical sciences in the fields of virology, cancer biology, and immunology, involving both basic science and translational research. Damania is the Boshamer Distinguished Professor in the department of microbiology and immunology and serves as vice dean for research at the UNC School of Medicine. Damania co-founded the Global Oncology Program at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also a Kavli fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, an American Academy of Microbiology fellow, an AACR Gertrude Elion scholar, a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society scholar, and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund investigator.

Professor Waters (UNC Chemistry Department, College of Arts & Sciences) is being honored for fundamental studies of molecular recognition in water and its role in biomolecular recognition, with application to epigenetic regulation, which encompasses the factors that control gene expression. Waters is the Glen H. Elder, Jr. Distinguished Professor of chemistry and vice chair for education, as well as the current president of the American Peptide Society. She was the principal investigator on a study, backed by a $1M grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, of protein methylation, which is a mechanism of epigenetic regulation implicated in many diseases, including cancer.

Professor Zylka (UNC School of Medicine) is being honored for distinguished contributions to the field of neuroscience, particularly for the study of autism-related genes and risk factors using high-throughput approaches. Zylka is the W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of cell biology and physiology and director of the UNC Neuroscience Center. He won a Hettleman Prize for his work in autism and chronic pain and has also received a five-year, $3.8M Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health to study the role that genetic and environmental factors play in autism.

The AAAS fellows program began in 1874 and, with this announcement, UNC-Chapel Hill now boasts 83 AAAS fellows among its current faculty.

The full list of new AAAS fellows will appear in the November 24 issue of Science.

New fellows will be recognized on Saturday, February 17, 2018 during the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.