Two from Penn named to new class of AAAS Fellows

Hyun (Michel) Koo of the School of Dental Medicine and Joshua Plotkin of the School of Arts and Sciences are in the latest cohort to be honored by the scientific society.

Two faculty members from the University of Pennsylvania have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Hyun (Michel) Koo of the School of Dental Medicine and Joshua Plotkin of the School of Arts and Sciences are among a group of 416 honored this year. 

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed upon members of AAAS by their peers for scientifically and socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. 

Koo is a professor in the Department of Orthodontics and divisions of Pediatric Dentistry and Community Oral Health in Penn Dental Medicine. As part of AAAS’s Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences Section, he was selected “for distinguished contributions to the field of cariology, particularly for improving understanding of relationships between biofilms and oral diseases and developing therapies against biofilm-associated infections.” 

Michel Koo and Joshua Plotkin
Hyun (Michel) Koo and Joshua Plotkin

Koo has employed unique approaches, including nanotechnology and biotechnology, to study and target dental biofilms, known as plaque, for eradication. With collaborations across basic and clinical science, his translational work may find its way into over-the-counter products to help reduce tooth decay in both adults and children.

Plotkin is a professor in the Department of Biology in Penn Arts and Sciences, with secondary appointments in the Department of Mathematics and in the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Computer and Information Science.

As part of AAAS’s Biological Sciences Section, he was selected for “scientific accomplishments in evolutionary biology, ecology, and related disciplines, for dedicated mentorship, and for service to AAAS and the broader scientific community.”

In his wide-ranging studies, Plotkin draws methods from mathematics and computation to probe questions in evolutionary biology and ecology, for example—exploring the arms race between pathogens and the immune system. More recently, his scope has broadened to encompass questions in social science, such as how language evolves, and what factors influence the emergence and stability of cooperative behavior.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 29. New Fellows will be honored at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 16.