Four UIC researchers named AAAS fellows

Four researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This year AAAS honors 347 new fellows for their “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” Fellows are AAAS members selected by their peers for outstanding contributions to the field. The new fellows will be recognized at the annual AAAS meeting in February.

The newly appointed AAAS fellows are University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, who is also professor of physics and of electrical & computer engineering at UIC; E. Douglas Lewandowski, professor of physiology and biophysics and director of the UIC Center for Cardiovascular Research; Asrar Malik, Schweppe Family Distinguished Professor and head of pharmacology in the UIC College of Medicine; and William Walden, professor of microbiology and immunology and associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the UIC College of Medicine.

Killeen, who took office in May as the university’s 20th president, earned his Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics at University College London at the age of 23. Before coming to Illinois, he was vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York. A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, he spent more than 20 years on the faculty and in administration at the University of Michigan and served as assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation before joining SUNY in 2012. AAAS recognized him for “distinguished contributions to optical interferometry, education and government administration, and leadership in professional service.” He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007.

Lewandowski was honored for his research into the metabolic mechanisms that contribute to heart disease. His research has focused on how the heart uses and stores fuels, and how disturbances of cellular metabolism contribute to heart disease. He developed an isotope tracer technique using carbon-13 and magnetic resonance imaging that can track the movement of individual molecules as they get cycled through various metabolic pathways in cells — work that led to a Young Investigator award from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health.

Malik was recognized for his contributions to the field of lung and vascular biology and basic mechanisms of innate immune function of the lungs. His research has uncovered cellular signaling mechanisms involved in the maintenance of the barrier formed by the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. His discoveries have implications in the treatment of acute lung injury as well as sepsis conditions in which leaky blood vessels lead to an overblown immune response that is difficult to control with conventional medications.

Walden was cited for research contributions that have advanced understanding of the molecular mechanisms of iron metabolism and its disorders, and iron-related gene expression, including regulation of the synthesis of ferritin, the major iron storage protein in animal cells. Walden was previously special assistant to the provost for diversity at UIC and has been a leader in increasing the number of students from underrepresented minorities who pursue doctorates in biomedical and other STEM fields.

AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society. The organization was founded in 1848 and fellows have been annually elected since 1874.