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Distinguished NC State Professors Named AAAS Fellows
Two North Carolina State University scientists have
been elected Fellows of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
M. Burkholder, professor of botany and director of
the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology, and Dr.
Steven Spiker, professor of genetics, are faculty members
in NC State’s College
of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and are among 308 scientists to be honored
the world’s largest general scientific
society, and the publisher of the journal Science.
Each year, the AAAS Council elects members whose “efforts
on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications
are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Fellows
are nominated by their peers and undergo an extensive
Burkholder was recognized for her distinguished contributions to the field
of phycology, the study or science of algae.
has published groundbreaking work on harmful algae
such as Pfiesteria, describing its toxic impacts
on fish and mammals. Most recently, Burkholder and
colleagues published a paper in Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. asserting that
sections of North Carolina’s coast quickly bounced
back from damaging hurricanes in 1996 and 1999, suggesting
that the hurricanes had a scouring, cleansing effect
on the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River estuary.
was selected for his contributions to molecular studies
on the structure of the plant nucleus, plant
chromatin, and chromosomal proteins and on the role
of chromatin structure in gene expression.
In recent years, Spiker has concentrated on how a
protein structure, called the nuclear matrix, serves
as a framework to organize chromosomes in the nucleus
of plants. He and colleagues have shown that DNA sequences
called MARs bind to the nuclear matrix and can be put
to great use for biotechnology. When MARs are included
with genes used to genetically modify plants, the activity
of the genes can be increased several fold. This has
the potential to be useful in efforts to make plants
that are resistant to pests, resistant to stresses
such as drought, or that can serve as biological factories
to make specialized medicines. These studies have been
carried out in a number of plant systems including
peas, wheat, maize, tobacco and the model plant Arabidopsis.
Burkholder and Spiker will be recognized at the AAAS
annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in February 2005.