Chemistry Professors Named Fellows of Prestigious Science Organization

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has elected two University of Texas at Dallas faculty members from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) as fellows of the organization.

Dr. Ray Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, and Dr. Julia Chan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, are among 443 newly elected fellows who will be recognized for their contributions to science and technology in February during the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle. Fellows are elected to one of 24 AAAS sections.

Dr. Julia Chan

“It’s a very high honor to be selected as an AAAS fellow,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, professor of chemistry, dean of NSM and Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “This is a tremendous recognition of Dr. Chan’s and Dr. Baughman’s individual achievements. To have two of our chemistry professors elected in the same year is also an indicator of the high quality of our faculty members, the caliber of their research and the impact their work has on society.”

Chan, who was elected to the chemistry section, is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the field of crystal growth of highly correlated quantum materials.” A leading expert on crystal growth, she has developed innovative methods for discovering novel materials from a combination of elements, with the aim of understanding the fundamental chemistry and physics of technologically useful materials.

Crystalline materials have a wide range of uses and are key components in solid-state hard drives, batteries and spintronic devices. The single crystals grown by members of Chan’s research group enable the structural study and direct measurement of intrinsic magnetic and electrical properties of quantum materials.

Chan is a past member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Communicating Chemistry in Informal Settings and is a deputy editor of the AAAS interdisciplinary journal Science Advances. She is active in science outreach to the community, graduate student recruitment and efforts to diversify the student population interested in pursuing scientific careers. 

“I am honored to be selected as a fellow of a prestigious organization that advances and disseminates science to a broad audience,” Chan said.

Dr. Ray Baughman

Baughman’s election to the industrial science and technology section of AAAS is for “distinguished contributions to the science and applications of conducting polymers, polydiacetylenes, and carbon nanotubes for artificial muscle, energy storage, energy harvesting and indicator devices.”

A prolific inventor and member of the National Academy of Engineering, Baughman is known for his research in many different areas, including discoveries that carbon nanotubes, which are cylindrical sheets of carbon atoms, can be fabricated into strong yarns and transparent, electrically conducting sheets that are useful for diverse applications.

Baughman’s research group has used carbon nanotubes to make artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles and has demonstrated that carbon nanotube sheets can be used to make objects appear to vanish. In addition, he and his team recently discovered a way to convert ordinary fishing line and sewing thread into powerful artificial muscles, and they developed a new technology for refrigeration that is based on twisting and untwisting fibers.

“I am especially happy to become a fellow of AAAS because of the important role that it has in helping address the many challenges that our nation and the world face,” Baughman said.

Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal. The mission of AAAS includes advancing science, engineering and innovation and serving society through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and public engagement.

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