Six University of Chicago researchers were named 2022 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their distinguished contributions to the sciences.
Profs. David Freedman, Philippe Guyot-Sionnest, Peter Nagele, Norbert Scherer, Robert Rosner and Xiaoxi Zhuang were among the 506 fellows elected as AAAS members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications.
David Freedman is a neuroscientist who focuses on computational cognitive and visual neuroscience. Using advanced neurophysiological and behavioral techniques in parallel with machine learning approaches to study artificial neural networks, his lab aims to understand how organisms learn to interpret their visual world in order to learn, remember, and make decisions.
His work sheds light on our ability to learn from and adapt to our ever-changing environment, a foundation of complex behavior, as it allows us to make sense of incoming sensory stimuli and to plan successful actions. This in turn provides insights into the brain mechanisms of visual learning, recognition and decision making.
He was recognized by the AAAS for “distinguished contributions to the field of systems and cognitive neuroscience, particularly for characterizing neuronal representations that support the categorization of sensory stimuli.”
Philippe Guyot-Sionnest works in physics and chemistry, exploring nanoparticles and their optical properties. Lab contributions include bright core/shell quantum dots that led to their use in bioimaging and TV displays, intraband quantum dot spectroscopy that may lead to mid-infrared detectors and emitters, and electronic doping and ligand exchange strategies that impart ohmic electrical conductivity to films of quantum dots. Prior to joining UChicago, he developed nonlinear optical probes for molecular spectroscopy and ultrafast studies of liquid and solid interfaces.
He was cited for “distinguished contributions to the physics and chemistry of nanomaterials, particularly fluorescent core-shell nanoparticles.”
Peter Nagele has built a pioneering interdisciplinary research program that interfaces with anesthesiology, psychiatry, neuropharmacology, and behavioral sciences, where his team made the seminal discovery that the oldest anesthetic in medical use – nitrous oxide – is a rapid and effective treatment for otherwise treatment-resistant depression. His ground-breaking research has opened a new field of scientific investigation with a potential to provide help for millions of patients who suffer from one of the most severe forms of major depression.
The AAAS cited his “distinguished contributions to translational neuropsychiatric pharmacology, particularly for work on the utility of nitrous oxide in managing symptoms of treatment-resistant major depression.”
Robert Rosner is a theoretical physicist who since 1987 has been on the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he is the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, as well as in the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the Harris School of Public Policy.
He served as Argonne National Laboratory’s Chief Scientist and Associate Laboratory Director for Physical, Biological and Computational Sciences (2002–2005), and was Argonne’s Laboratory Director from 2005–2009; was the founding chair of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratory Directors Council (2007–2009); and is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, and to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (as a Foreign Member) in 2004; he is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was elected to the Presidential Line of the American Physical Society (APS) in 2020; and is its President in 2023.
Most of his scientific work has been related to fluid dynamics and plasma physics problems, as well as in applied mathematics and computational physics. Within the past decade, he has been increasingly involved in energy technologies, and in public policy issues that relate to the development and deployment of various energy production and consumption technologies, including serving as co-founding director of the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago.
He was cited by AAAS for “ important contributions to astrophysics, to science administration, and to science policy.”
Norbert F. Scherer
Norbert F. Scherer is a Professor of Chemistry, the James Franck Institute, and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, of which he was a founding co-director. Scherer’s research explores new frontiers in several areas: optical magnetism, optical magnetic forces and trapping; formation and “non-reciprocal” dynamics of nonequilibrium optical matter; the optical physics of meta-atoms and meta-materials; and understanding the relationships between transport in single and multicellular biological systems to function, particularly in diabetes. He also holds several patents in optical microscopy and laser science for developments in support of his research.
Scherer’s honors include the 2022 C.E.K. Mees Medal of Optica (formerly Optical Society of America), the Peter Debye Prize of the Edmond Hustinx Foundation (2015), a DoD Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship (2014), a John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2006), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1997), a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship (1993), and selected a National Science Foundation National Young Investigator (1993).
Scherer was honored for “seminal contributions to optical science by developing novel methods and applications in ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy, single molecule microscopy, nanoplasmonics, optical vector beam spectroscopy; and optical trapping, optical matter and nano-machines.”
Xiaoxi Zhuang and his group investigate mechanisms supporting reinforcement learning and motor control. His lab is especially interested in how the neurotransmitter dopamine and the basal ganglia play a central role in motor learning and performance as well as in reward and reward-dependent behavioral modification.
The AAAS cited his “outstanding contribution to the field of neurogenetics, particularly in using genetic models to understand dopamine system function and mechanisms underlying Parkinson's disease pathology and therapy.”