Three faculty members from the University of Pennsylvania have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Carolyn Gibson of the School of Dental Medicine, Sampath Kannan of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Ellen Puré of the School of Veterinary Medicine are among 443 members recognized this year for their “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.”
Election as a Fellow of AAAS, the world’s largest scientific society, is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.
Gibson is professor emeritus, earning that status in 2014 as a member of Penn Dental Medicine’s former Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology (now the Department of Basic and Translational Sciences). Her studies focused on the molecular and genetic bases of tooth-enamel formation. In particular, Gibson investigated the enamel defect present in amelogenesis imperfecta, the most common hereditary disease affecting tooth enamel. The work sets the stage for improved oral health and quality of life for people with AI and has also opened new avenues for studying the effects of the protein amelogenin in other parts of the body.
Kannan, the Henry Salvatori Professor in Penn Engineering's Department of Computer and Information Science, is an expert in several subfields of algorithms, including ones that operate on massive data sets. Kannan's research explores what can and cannot be computed efficiently, as well as the applications of algorithmic problems in computational biology and other fields. Kannan is also co-director of MCIT Online, the school's first all-online master's program. As with the on-campus Master of Computer and Information Technology program, MCIT Online is designed for students with no previous computer science training to learn the fundamentals of the field in both theoretical and applied contexts.
Puré is the Grace Lambert Professor of Biomedical Science and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Penn Vet. She also serves as director of the Penn Vet Cancer Center, which integrates research and cancer care, speeding the translation of science to the clinic. She is an expert in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases associated with chronic inflammation and fibrosis, including cancer. Among other key discoveries, Puré’s work has uncovered new ways that inflammation and fibrosis contribute to the development, growth, and spread of cancer. She’s helping pioneer therapeutic strategies that target the tumor microenvironment as a way of slowing or stopping cancer’s spread, and working to understand how tumors might “seed” distant tissues to promote metastasis.
This year’s AAAS Fellows will be honored at the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle on Feb. 15.