Four faculty members named AAAS fellows

Sami Sparber

Four UT-Austin faculty members were recently recognized for their work in advancing science, according to a UT press release. 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, an international nonprofit society of scientists, awarded the members for their individual work in various scientific fields.

Pharmacy professor Rueben Gonzales was elected for his innovative approach to researching the behavioral effects of ethanol in alcohol. Gonzales said the honor serves as an external reinforcement of what most scientists, particularly those at UT, believe and exemplify every day.

“We (at UT) pride ourselves on the excellence of our scholarship from a research standpoint as well as from a student learning standpoint,” Gonzales said. “So it’s nice to get external recognition that we are making significant contributions to society and pushing the frontiers of science forward.”

The society chose mathematics professor Philip “Uri” Treisman for his work in making mathematics education more equitable for students of all backgrounds. 

“It’s a wonderful thing to be recognized by peers for our scholarly and public service activities,” Treisman said. “In the everyday conduct of the activities so honored, we do experience moments of exhilaration, but most often (we experience) frustration … from always skating at the edge of one’s competence.”

Treisman said being recognized encourages scientists to further pursue their research despite uncertainties.

“Recognition serves as a navigational aid,” Treisman said. “It lets us know that our respected colleagues believe we’ve chosen a good path forward and that gives us courage to proceed.”

In a similar way, seeing faculty succeed outside the classroom reaffirms students’ beliefs that they are receiving the best education possible, said Alec Blair, environmental science, journalism and Plan II Honors sophomore.

“It’s really nice to know that the people above us are not only dedicated to research but also successful with it,” Blair said. “It speaks to the way that we invest our time as undergraduates, since we are a reflection of our graduate students and professors.”

Chemistry professor Michael Krische and chemical engineering professor Thomas Truskett are also part of the 396 newly elected fellows who will be inducted at the AAAS Annual Meeting in February, held in Austin for the first time. In the meantime, Gonzales said his students and research are still as much of a priority as ever.

“That’s what we do, and we would do it without the recognition, but it’s nice to know that other people appreciate it as well,” Gonzales said.