Case Western Reserve University College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joy K. Ward and School of Medicine Professor Dana Crawford have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Ward is a longtime evolutionary biologist and climate scientist who became dean July 1. Crawford, a genetic epidemiologist, is a professor of population and quantitative health sciences, associate director of the Cleveland Institute of Computational Biology and associate director of Population and Diversity Research. Both were selected in the fellowship category “biological sciences.”
They join 487 others awarded the fellow distinction this year because of “their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications,” an AAAS news release said.
The 2020 AAAS Fellows was formally announced in the journal Science on Nov. 27 and a virtual induction ceremony for the new fellows is planned for Feb. 13, 2021.
Ward expert in climate, leadership
Ward is an internationally recognized biologist and a climate-change scientist who has researched how plants respond to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide over geologic and contemporary time.
The association members cited Ward for “helping us understand the impact of rising carbon dioxide concentrations on the development, physiology and growth of plants.”
By incorporating the fossil record, she has provided novel insights into how plants have responded to long-term environmental changes since the last glacial period, as well as understanding how plants will respond to future environmental changes.
Ward was thankful for the honor, crediting the association for its “contributions to the scientific enterprise in this country.” She said she was indebted to current colleagues at Case Western Reserve and previous colleagues at the University of Kansas for daily inspiration in her “scientific and leadership pursuits.”
Ward spent 16 years at the University of Kansas and became associate dean and dean’s professor, the highest honor for a faculty member in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I am truly humbled by all scientists who work tirelessly to better understand the broader world around us, develop cures against human diseases and strive to protect our environment,” she said.
Crawford researches human genetics, minority populations
The AAAS said Crawford was selected for “distinguished contributions in pioneering phenome-wide association studies and in developing and leading genetic studies in under-represented minority populations.”
As a genetic epidemiologist at Case Western Reserve, Crawford’s research interests include applying genetic variation data to large-scale epidemiologic and clinical cohorts to better understand human genotype-phenotype associations with an emphasis on diverse populations.
“I am honored to be recognized alongside past and current AAAS fellows for my work in human genetics—especially because the work emphasizes population diversity,” she said. “The scientific community is acutely aware of the need to include as many groups as possible in studies, and my colleagues and I are actively working in this area to ensure genetic and genomic findings are relevant to all and not just a few.”
Crawford investigates how genetic variation impacts human health and traits, in particular how a single gene can sometimes influence two or more seemingly unrelated outcomes or traits. She also studies genetic variation can affect a person’s response to treatment.
She has published more than 175 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and is a member of the Board of Directors and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force of the American Society of Human Genetics.
The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.
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This article was originally published Nov. 30, 2020.