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Close-up of the gold and blue American Association for the Advancement of Science rosette pin representing science and engineering, respectively
Each AAAS Fellow receives an official certificate along with a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin. | Image: AAAS

Eight professors in the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M University have been elected as 2023 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the most distinguished honors within the scientific community.

Dr. Ping Chang (Oceanography), Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova (Physics and Astronomy), Dr. François Gabbaï (Chemistry), Dr. Michael Hall (Chemistry), Dr. Stephen Maren (Psychological and Brain Sciences), Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (Atmospheric Sciences), Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff (Physics and Astronomy) and Dr. Hongbin Zhan (Geology and Geophysics) are among the 502 AAAS members honored this year by their peers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.

In addition to being formally announced in the April 2024 AAAS News & Notes section of AAAS’ flagship journal Science, the 2023 AAAS Fellows class will be honored in Washington, D.C., during a September 21 forum, followed by an evening gala celebrating the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows program at the National Building Museum. The new Fellows will receive a certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin (representing science and engineering, respectively) to commemorate their election.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows Program, AAAS is proud to recognize the newly elected individuals," said Dr. Sudip S. Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. "This year’s class embodies scientific excellence, fosters trust in science throughout the communities they serve and leads the next generation of scientists while advancing scientific achievements.”

Chang is cited by the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences section of the AAAS "for outstanding contributions to the understanding of climate dynamics, variability and change, and predictability from the local, regional, and global scales and at the fundamental level."

Erukhimova is cited by the General Interest in Science and Engineering section of the AAAS "for energetic, engaging, impactful outreach and education in physics and related realms, engendering understanding and appreciation among students and others locally, nationally and internationally." 

Gabbaï is cited by the Chemistry section of the AAAS "for distinguished contributions to the field of main group chemistry, particularly for his investigations of the coordination chemistry of Lewis acids with applications in anion sensing, anion transport and catalysis.”

Hall is cited by the Chemistry section of the AAAS "for contributions to advancing the discipline of chemistry by developing and applying advanced electronic structure methods to problems ranging from metalloenzyme to catalytic reaction mechanisms."

Maren is cited by the Neuroscience section of the AAAS "for exemplary contributions to the field of psychological neurosciences that has transformed our understanding of how the brain forms memories for traumatic events."

Nielsen-Gammon is cited by the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences section of the AAAS “for significant contributions and excellence in communicating and interpreting weather and climate science to the citizens of the state of Texas.”

Suntzeff is cited by the Astronomy section of the AAAS ”for significant contributions to observational cosmology, the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe and major contributions to teaching at Texas A&M University."

Zhan is cited by the Geology and Geography section of the AAAS "for distinguished contributions as an educator and to the understanding of flow in horizontal wells, Non-Darcian flow, flow in the unsaturated zone and aquitards, and subsurface contaminant/heat transport."

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members — so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution — or by the AAAS chief executive officer. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

Nine additional faculty across the Texas A&M campus join their colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences as members of the 2023 AAAS Fellows class: Dr. Zach Adelman (Entomology), Dr. Noah Cohen (Large Animal Clinical Sciences), Dr. Je-Chin Han (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Jeffrey Liew (Educational Psychology), Dr. Bruce McCarl (Agricultural Economics), Dr. Seth C. Murray (Soil and Crop Sciences), Dr. Joanne Olson (Teaching, Learning and Culture), Dr. Elaine Oran (Aerospace Engineering) and Dr. Ashok Shetty (School of Medicine).

To date, the Texas A&M College of Arts and Sciences features 34 current or former faculty members who have earned the prestigious honor, according to combined college and AAAS records, in addition to several who hold joint appointments within Texas A&M Arts and Sciences.

Brief biographies for each of Texas A&M Arts and Sciences’ 2023 AAAS Fellows are included below:

Ping Chang is a professor and expert on climate dynamics and climate prediction, along with global and regional climate modeling. He joined the Department of Oceanography in 1990, where he leads a research group in global and regional climate modeling studies and has developed research collaborations with many institutions in the US, Asia and Europe. He holds the Loius and Elizabeth Scherck Chair in Oceanography as well as a joint appointment in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Chang’s research involves the theoretical understanding of climate variability and predictability, including El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Tropical Atlantic Variability and Atlantic Multidecadal Variability. He has published nearly 200 refereed journal articles, with some of his research being used to guide the design of major international research programs, such as the Climate and Ocean-Variability, Predictability and Change (CLIVAR) Research Program. He co-chaired the International CLIVAR Atlantic Research Panel and was a contributing author to three chapters in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He recently spearheaded an international collaboration on high-resolution Earth system prediction, making groundbreaking contributions to climate modeling and prediction. A 2019 fellow of the American Meteorology Society, Chang's career awards include a 1993 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, a 2003 Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research and the National Center for Atmospheric Research's 2015 Francis Bretherton Visitorship.

Tatiana Erukhimova, a 2017 Texas A&M Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and 2021-24 Eppright Professor in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2006, where she is an instructional professor, outreach coordinator and the inaugural holder of the Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68 Chair for Physics Outreach. For nearly two decades, she has excelled in teaching large introductory physics classes, combining high expectations with devoted support to transform the relationship her students have with physics. She is also known for involving undergraduate and graduate students in physics education research and is a global social media sensation for all things STEM education and engagement. Erukhimova’s passion for inspiring learning through science has motivated the creation of several innovative programs at Texas A&M that integrate education with science outreach and community service, including DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering), the Texas A&M Physics ShowJust Add Science and the Real Physics Live online videos series. Since 2007, she has coordinated the annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival that attracts several thousand visitors to campus each spring. In addition, she is a co-organizer of the annual Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program. A fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers (2024) and American Physical Society (2019), Erukhimova's many career honors include the AAPT David Halliday and Robert Resnick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching (2024) and Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service (2024), the APS Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach (2023), the Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award (2021), a Fish Camp namesake (2019), Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards for Teaching (2012) as well as Extension and Outreach (2019), the Sigma Xi-Texas A&M Chapter Outstanding Science Communicator Award (2014) and the John E. Trott Jr. Award in Student Recruiting (2013). She also served as chair of the AAPT Committee on Science Education for the Public in 2020.

François Gabbaï, a University Distinguished Professor and holder of the Arthur E. Martell Endowed Chair in Chemistry, joined tthe Department of Chemistry in 1998 and is a past department head (2014-16). He is a global leader in synthetic inorganic chemistry and one of the world’s top experts in the diverse field of main group chemistry — an inorganic-centric portion of the periodic table that spans transition metals and inert gases. Gabbaï is widely credited with seminal contributions that have transformed the field of anion recognition — a topic that carries wide-ranging societal implications, from drinking water analysis and environmental monitoring, to cancer imaging and the development of cures for diseases triggered by anion transport dysregulation. He is also credited with groundbreaking contributions to the redox chemistry of main group elements, which he has exploited for the development of catalysts for the activation of unsaturated hydrocarbons derived from oil. In addition to seminal contributions in areas of electron-deficient Lewis acids as chemical sensors, phosphorescence materials and fluorine 18 radiotracers, Gabbaï’s investigations have resulted in the recognition of heretofore unknown bonding modes (a foundational theme in chemistry), light-driven transformations of main group compounds (a key methodology for green chemistry) and novel approaches to brightly emissive supramolecules (broad application in producing light-emitting diodes, such as those powering flat-screen displays). A fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry, his work has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including a 2001 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the 2009 North American Dalton Lectureship,  the 2016 ACS F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry and a 2019 Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research.

Michael Hall joined the Department of Chemistry in 1975 and is a Davidson Chair in Science as well as a past department head (1986-94) and a former executive associate dean in the legacy College of Science (2002-17). A leading authority in computational chemistry and the application of computer technology to problems that range from materials science to protein folding, he is a past director of the Academy for Advanced Telecommunications and Learning Technologies and an advisory council member for the Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center. In 1997, Hall founded the Laboratory for Molecular Simulation, serving as director until 2020 when it moved to become a unit within the Texas A&M High-Performance Research Computing Facility. Hall's research group in Texas A&M Chemistry applies state-of-the-art theoretical techniques to chemical problems of experimental interest in inorganic, organometallic, biological and materials chemistry. Additional interests include developing new algorithms especially suited to electronic structure problems in large transition metal molecules. Hall's research career is reflected in nearly 400 peer-reviewed publications in major journals, continuous research grants from both the National Science Foundation and The Welch Foundation for more than 45 years, and training dozens of both postdoctoral associates and graduate students. Among his many career honors, he is a life member of Clare Hall at Cambridge University and a 2005 recipient of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research.

Stephen Maren, a University Distinguished Professor and holder of the Claude H. Gregory '64 Chair in Liberal Arts, joined the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in 2012. He was named a Regents Professor by The Texas A&M University System in 2023 and also is a Presidential Impact Fellow, a Dean’s Research Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences, director of the Emotion and Memory Systems Laboratory and an affiliated faculty member in the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience. As a behavioral neuroscientist, Maren specializes in the neurobiology of learning and memory and has made several seminal contributions to uncovering the neurobiological basis of emotional learning and memory, particularly memory related to fearful experiences. His primary research interests are neural systems for emotion, learning and memory; contextual regulation of memory encoding and retrieval; and fear, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995 and serves as current editor-in-chief of Behavioural Brain Research. Maren received his doctorate in neurobiology from the University of Southern California in 1993 and spent 16 years as a faculty member at the University of Michigan prior to coming to Texas A&M. A fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Association for Psychological Science and a past president of the Pavlovian Society, he has been recognized with numerous awards, including the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology (2001), the McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award (2015) and the D.O. Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award (2017).

John Nielsen-Gammon, a Regents Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, joined the Department of Atmospheric Sciences faculty in 1991 after earning his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1990. He has served since 2000 as the Texas State Climatologist and since 2021 as director of the Southern Regional Climate Center. Nielsen-Gammon's research interests include applied climatology, extreme rainfall, drought monitoring and local circulations. He conducts research on various types of extreme weather, from droughts to floods, as well as air pollution and computer modeling. As Texas State Climatologist, Nielsen-Gammon helps the state of Texas make the best possible use of weather and climate information through applied research, outreach and service on a variety of state-level committees. A 2011 fellow of the American Meteorological Society, he was honored by the National Science Foundation and White House as a Presidential Faculty Fellow in 1995. His additional career awards to date include a 2007 National Aeronautics and Space Administration Certificate of Recognition, the John C. Freeman Weather Museum's 2011 Weather Hero Award, a 2011 Texas A&M University Newsmaker Image Award, the 2013 Sigma Xi-Texas A&M Chapter Outstanding Science Communicator Award, a 2013 Texas A&M Southeastern Conference Distinguished Achievement Award and several awards as an editor, reviewer and referee for multiple journals from a variety of professional societies.

Nicholas Suntzeff, a University Distinguished Professor and an observational astronomer specializing in cosmology, supernovae, stellar populations and astronomical instrumentation, joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2006 as director of the Texas A&M astronomy program and the inaugural holder of the Mitchell-Heep-Munnerlyn Chair in Observational Astronomy. A member of the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, he was appointed as a university distinguished professor in 2013 and as a Regents Professor in 2017. Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Suntzeff spent 20 years as a staff astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena, Chile, rising to the rank of associate director for science at NOAO. In 1994 with Dr. Brian Schmidt, he co-founded the High-Z Supernova Search Team that in 1998 discovered acceleration and the presence of dark energy in the universe. The finding was honored as Science magazine’s “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year” for 1998 across all science disciplines and earned a host of prestigious international awards, including the 2006 Shaw Prize, the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. A 2023 fellow of the American Astronomical Society and 2011 National Academy of Sciences Jefferson Science Fellow, he was also a co-founder of the Calan/Tololo Supernova Survey that established Type Ia supernovae as the most precise markers for measuring cosmological distances.

Hongbin Zhan joined the Department of Geology and Geophysics in 1996, where he is an expert in subsurface hydrology and environmental geoscience and holder of the Dudley J. Hughes '51 Chair in Geology and Geophysics. He is an affliated faculty member with the Water Management and Hydrological Science interdisciplinary graduate program as well as the Texas A&M Energy Institute. Zhan's teaching and research interests are in fundamental processes of groundwater hydrology, flow and transport in geological formations, and related applications in water resources management and geological, environmental and energy engineering. His work spans a wide range of topics, such as flow and solute transport in highly deformable low-permeability porous media, interaction of aquifer with connected and disconnected rivers, Non-Darcian flow and its impact on anomalous transport, coupled unsaturated-saturated flow and transport problems, radial dispersion and push-and-pull tests, and geothermal energy production and storage. An elected fellow of the Geological Society of America (2006), Zhan has served on many national and international committees and panels, such as the US Department of Energy (DOE) Subsurface Biogeochemical Research Program, AAAS Research Competitiveness Program, US Department of Defense/Environmental Protection Agency/DOE Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Institute for Regulatory Science peer review board. His career awards include the Transportation Research Board's 2004 Fred Burggraf Award administrated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement College-Level Awards in both teaching (2009) and research (2016), a Big 12 Conference Faculty Fellowship (2001-02) and a 1999 Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar Award.

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About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science AdvancesScience Immunologyand Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more. For additional information about AAAS, see