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Home > Press > Rice scientists, engineer elected AAAS fellows

Bartel, Burrus, Colvin chosen for pioneering research

Rice scientists, engineer elected AAAS fellows

Houston, TX | Posted on October 25th, 2007

Rice University faculty members Bonnie Bartel, Sidney Burrus and Vicki Colvin have been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

Bartel, the Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, was selected "for contributions to understanding of auxin metabolism, peroxisome biogenesis and microRNA functions in plants through innovative genetic approaches using Arabidopsis thaliana."

Burrus, the Maxfield and Oshman Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was selected "for fundamental contributions to digital signal processing, particularly for the development of FFT (fast Fourier transform) algorithms and digital filter design."

Colvin, professor of chemistry and in chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of Rice's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), was selected "for distinguished contributions to the exploration of fundamental chemical questions that emerge when inorganic nanoparticles interact with aqueous biological and environmental systems."

Few AAAS members are elevated to the rank of Fellow. Fellows are selected for their efforts to advance science or scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Bartel, Burrus and Colvin are among 471 Fellows elected this year. This year's AAAS Fellows are named in this week's edition of the journal Science and will be honored at a Feb. 16 ceremony at the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

Bartel joined Rice in 1995. Her research group uses genetic approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to explore processes related to growth and development, including how plants regulate levels of the critical but little-understood hormone auxin. Bartel's group was among the first in the world to study the roles of plant microRNAs, short segments of RNA molecules that regulate gene expression. Recently, she has turned her attention to the biogenesis and functions of peroxisomes, subcellular compartments that house certain key metabolic processes.

Burrus '58 joined Rice's faculty in 1965 and founded the university's digital signal processor group (DSP) in 1968. DSPs are the underlying technology inside digital cell phones, hearing aids, CAT scanners, MRI machines, radar guns, sonar systems, seismographs and countless other devices. Burrus authored several foundational texts in digital signal processing. He built Rice's DSP program into a premier global program, and his work with Texas Instruments in the 1970s eventually helped the company rethink its business model to focus solely on DSP products. He also participated in the founding of Connexions, a new technology in education project.

Colvin joined Rice in 1996. In 2001, she became the founding director of CBEN, the first academic research center dedicated to studying the interaction of nanomaterials with living organisms and ecosystems. Colvin has testified before Congress and spearheaded international efforts to get industrial, regulatory, academic and non-governmental leaders to agree on research agendas for nanotoxicology and environmental nanotechnology. In addition, her research group has conducted groundbreaking toxicological studies on fullerenes, and its discovery of the magnetic properties of "nanorust" was named one of the Top Five Nanotech Breakthroughs of 2006 by Forbes magazine.

Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society. It publishes the weekly journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed scientific journal in the world.


About Rice University
Rice University is consistently ranked one of America’s best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size—2,850 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students; selectivity—10 applicants for each place in the freshman class; resources—an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, and the fifth largest endowment per student among American universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines, integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work. Rice’s wooded campus is located in the nation’s fourth largest city and on America’s South Coast.

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Jade Boyd

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