UofM’s Kimbrough Oller and Irena Lasiecka Bestowed Lifetime AAAS Fellows Honor

Jan. 31, 2023 — The University of Memphis’ Dr. Kimbrough Oller and Dr. Irena Lasiecka have been elected to the 2022 class of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the most distinguished honors within the scientific community. They are the first UofM faculty members to be honored.

“AAAS is proud to elevate these standout individuals and recognize the many ways in which they’ve advanced scientific excellence, tackled complex societal challenges and pushed boundaries that will reap benefits for years to come,” said Sudip S. Parikh, PhD, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

Oller, who was honored for Linguistics & Language Science, is Professor and Plough Chair of Excellence, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the UofM while Lasiecka, who was honored for Mathematics, is Distinguished University Professor; Chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Oller’s citation reads “For distinguished contributions to the field of language science, elucidating the origin of language with theoretical, methodological and clinical advances for language development in typical, atypical and multi-lingual populations.”

Lasiecka’s citation reads “For distinguished contributions to boundary control theory with applications to fluid-flow structure interactions.”

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals and has elected 506 scientists, engineers and innovators from around the world and across all disciplines to the 2002 Class of AAAS Fellows.

This year’s class has moved their fields forward, paving the way for scientific advances that benefit society. They bring diverse and novelty thinking, innovative approaches and passion that will help solve the world’s most complex problems. Examples include:

• Leading the Hubble Space Telescope’s scientific mission.

• Conducting modeling and analysis of epidemics and other global public health challenges.

• Driving diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across the scientific enterprise.

• Developing policies to improve ethical conduct, inclusion and personal safety in evolutionary biology and the broader science, technology, engineering and mathematics community.

• Being one of a handful of tenured Latina astronomy professors in the United States.

• Pioneering contributions to the radiology field and working to eliminate health disparities by broadening institutional partnerships.

• Leading conservation efforts on the ecology and biodiversity of marine ecosystems in Costa Rica.

• Contributing to understanding the impacts of Amazonian deforestation.

• Leading research on suicide to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

• Advocating for science communication to engage in science policy and diplomacy.

• Contributing to the field of protoplanetary disk studies.

The new class hails from academic institutions, laboratories and observatories, hospitals and medical centers, museums, global corporations, nonprofit organizations, institutes and government agencies (including from the U.S. presidential administration).

Honoring esteemed innovators is a tradition dating back to 1874. The new class joins the ranks of noted Fellows such as Alondra Nelson, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to go to space; Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics who served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy; W. E. B. Dubois, considered the founding father of American sociology; Ellen Ochoa, veteran astronaut and the Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic and second female director in its history; and Grace Hopper, pioneer in computer software development and programming language.

The new Fellows will receive a certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin (representing science and engineering, respectively) to commemorate their election and will be celebrated in Washington, D.C., in summer 2023. They will also be featured in the AAAS News & Notes section of Science in February 2023.

Additional background on the AAAS Fellows program:

AAAS Members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections across scientific and engineering disciplines, by three Fellows who are current AAAS Members, or by the CEO of AAAS. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected.

Election as a Fellow of AAAS is a lifetime honor, but it comes with an expectation that recipients maintain commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity. In the rare case that an elected Fellow no longer meets this expectation or otherwise fails to merit the continued status of Fellow, one or more AAAS Members can participate in a revocation process, which will determine whether the individual’s Fellow status should be rescinded.