Rice biologists elected AAAS Fellows

10/28/04

Strassmann and Queller chosen for pioneering efforts in evolution of sociality

HOUSTON, Oct. 28, 2004 -- Rice University evolutionary biologists Joan Strassmann and David Queller have been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow. Election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.

Strassmann, professor and chair of Rice's department of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Queller, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, were each selected for their pioneering efforts on the evolution of sociality.

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

Few AAAS members are elevated to the rank of Fellow. Fellows are selected because of their efforts to advance science or scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Queller and Strassmann are among 308 Fellows elected this year. 2005 AAAS Fellows are named in this week's edition of Science. They will be honored at a ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

"How delightful that Drs. Strassmann and Queller get to share the honor of being elected AAAS Fellows in the 20th year of their intellectual collaboration!" said Kathleen Matthews, dean of Rice's Wiess School of Natural Sciences. "Their research in the study of cooperation and conflict among social insects has been pioneering, and they are again breaking new ground with their most recent work on social amoebae."

Strassmann joined Rice in 1980. Her research centers upon cooperative alliances that have proven successful both evolutionarily and ecologically. She is particularly interested in how these alliances came to be, how conflicts are subsumed into cooperation, what conflicts remain and how they influence sociality. Strassmann has conducted fieldwork on social insects in Italy, Brazil, Venezuela and Virginia. The primary focus of her current work is the social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum.

Queller joined Rice in 1984. He is interested in the evolution of social interactions in contexts that involve cooperation, conflict, or both. He has studied wasps and stingless bees to determine the benefits of sociality, the role of genetic relatedness and the extent of conflicts within social insect societies. Recently, he has turned his focus to the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum.

Strassmann and Queller are currently using well-developed genetic and genomic resources for Dictyostelium discoideum to find genes involved in social interactions, and they are using those genes to test evolutionary hypotheses, for example whether social evolution is particularly rapid.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the Steering Groups of the Association's 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution), or by the Chief Executive Officer.

Each Steering Group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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