AMHERST, Mass. – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced that polymer scientist Maria Santore and biochemist Danny Schnell of the University of Massachusetts Amherst have been awarded the distinction of fellow in an election by their peers to recognize scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.
The honors were in the AAAS News & Notes section of the Nov. 30 issue of Science. The 702 new fellows will be officially recognized Feb. 16 during the association’s annual meeting in Boston.
Maria Santore was elected for her important contributions to applied macromolecular and interfacial science, and for exemplary service as an editor, program organizer and creator of innovative outreach and diversity initiatives.
A professor of polymer science and engineering, Santore studies interfacial polymer physics, dynamics, and colloidal phenomena: polymer and protein adsorption, biomaterial and biomimetic membranes, surface modification, adhesion and bioadhesion, coupling of interfacial forces with external fields. Applications include sensors, biomedical surfaces for implants and diagnostics, drug delivery vehicles, manipulation of colloidal stability, inks, paints and coatings.
A member of the UMass Amherst faculty since 2001, Santore has also been involved in efforts to expand professional development opportunities for junior faculty in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), particularly those with family responsibilities. Through a three-year, $97,500 grant from the Elsevier Foundation’s New Scholars Program, Santore and colleagues created the STEM Family Initiative, which helps resolve travel-related challenges for Five College faculty and STEM scientists across the country who have dependent care responsibilities.
Danny Schnell also came to UMass Amherst in 2001 and is currently a professor and the graduate program director in biochemistry and molecular biology. He was recognized by AAAS for “distinguished contributions to the field of biological sciences,” particularly in the area of evolution and mechanisms of chloroplast protein transport, and for service to the plant science community.
Schnell’s broad interests focus on understanding cellular architecture and the biogenesis of cellular compartments or organelles. His laboratory studies chloroplasts as a model for understanding how protein and membrane machineries within organelles are assembled and regulated to optimize plant metabolism. Recently, his work has included efforts to enhance photosynthesis and thereby improve carbon capture in crop plants. Schnell is currently leading a $2 million UMass Amherst research project to develop Camelina, a non-food oil seed crop related to canola, to dramatically increase seed oil generation for processing into sustainable liquid transportation fuels and bioproducts that can replace petroleum derived fuels and chemicals.
AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Founded in 1848, the association began the tradition of naming fellows in 1874.