Jianzhi Zhang. Image: Dale Austin

Professor Jianzhi Zhang was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2017.  

AAAS awards the distinction of Fellow to recognize contributions to science and technology that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished, scientific leadership and extraordinary achievements across disciplines.  Zhang, the Marshall W. Nirenberg Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was nominated by the AAAS Section on Biological Sciences for distinguished contributions to the field of molecular evolution, particularly for discoveries in functional genomics, and for developing impactful molecular evolutionary methods. He was one of the seven University of Michigan faculty selected this year.

“George surely deserves this honor,” said Professor Alex Kondrashov. “His studies of positive selection, evolution of duplicated genes, and properties of biological networks are very important.”

“One of the things that impresses me most about George is the wide variety of topics in molecular biology and evolution on which has published key papers for the field,” said Professor Patricia Wittkopp. “I’ve lost count of the number of times someone in my group or I have set out to review the literature on a topic and discovered that the most important papers for us to consider were authored by his group. In many cases, these papers integrate theoretical models, computational analysis and empirical work.”

“I am honored and delighted to be recognized by my peers, and am grateful to my lab group for their contributions,” said Zhang.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows dates to 1874 and comprises an illustrious group of scientists. Among them are astronomer Maria Mitchell, who discovered a comet that now carries her name and was elected Fellow in 1875; inventor Thomas Edison, whose creations included the incandescent light bulb and was elected Fellow in 1878; anthropologist Margaret Mead whose field research on culture and personality attracted much acclaim and was elected Fellow in 1934, and American biologist James Watson who, along with others, helped discover the structure of DNA and was elected Fellow in 1965.

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. This year's AAAS Fellows were formally announced in Science Nov. 24, 2017 and will be honored in February 2018 at the AAAS annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

Other AAAS Fellows in the department are: Deborah Goldberg (Biological Sciences 2014), Aaron King (Biological Sciences 2012), Joel Blum (Geology and Geography 2010), Daniel Fisher (Geology and Geography 2004) and Donald Zak (Biological Sciences 2016).

Read Michigan News press release

Read more: 2017 AAAS Fellows Recognized for Advancing Science

Compiled by Gail Kuhnlein