AAAS names seven Arts & Sciences faculty as 2021 fellows

Seven faculty members in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis are among 564 new fellows selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals.

Arts & Sciences' Leonard Green, Elizabeth S. Haswell, Sophia E. Hayes, Erik Herzog, Mark A. McDaniel, Jay W. Ponder, and Crickette Sanz will join the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community.

The new fellows will receive an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin to commemorate their election (representing science and engineering, respectively) and will be celebrated later this year during an in-person gathering when it is feasible from a public health and safety perspective. The new class also will be featured in the AAAS News & Notes section of Science in January 2022.

Leonard Green


Green, professor of psychology and of economics and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, is being honored for distinguished contributions to the fields of behavioral economics and behavior analysis, particularly for characterizing discounting rewards as a function of time and risk.

At Washington University, Green works closely with Joel Myerson, research professor in psychological and brain sciences. Green is one of the developers of behavioral economics, a transdisciplinary field that combines psychology’s experimental methodology with the theoretical constructs of economics.

More generally, Green studies choice and decision-making in humans and other animals, focusing on self-control; the discounting of delayed and probabilistic outcomes; and of course, behavioral economics.

Green has contributed greatly to the knowledge bases of both psychology and economics beyond helping develop a new field of study. He has published more than 150 scientific papers and book chapters. Active in leadership roles, Green has been editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior; associate editor of the Pavlovian Journal of Biological Sciences; and he is a consulting editor for Behavior and Philosophy.

Several professional associations have recognized Green for his accomplishments, including the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis and the American Psychological Association. He is a fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and the Association for Psychological Sciences. Locally, he served many years on the board of Missouri Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Green earned his undergraduate degree in 1969 from the City College of New York and his PhD in 1974 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Following a postdoc, he joined Washington University in 1975.

Elizabeth S. Haswell


Haswell, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, is being honored for identifying mechanisms by which plant cells sense and respond to physical forces and for creating an inclusive and diverse group which expands the scientific community and communicates new knowledge.

Haswell’s research is focused on mechanoperception: the fundamental process by which a physical stimulus is transduced into a biochemical response. Touch, hearing, pain, heart development and blood volume are all regulated by mechanical forces in animals. Plants must sense gravity, water availability, pathogens, wind and soil­ — all while regulating the internal forces that govern cell shape and tissue morphogenesis.

Haswell’s research group aims to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which plants perceive force, with a particular focus on mechanosensitive ion channels.

Haswell is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Simons Faculty Scholar and a principal investigator of the Center for Engineering MechanoBiology. She is also a member of the Center for Science and Engineering of Living Systems. Haswell is a senior editor for The Plant Cell and a deputy editor at Science Advances, and serves on the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee.

At Washington University, Haswell teaches courses on plant biology and genetic engineering. She is an advocate for science communication and for an academic culture that values sustainability, diversity and authenticity. She is also a co-host of The Taproot, a Plantae podcast.

Haswell earned her PhD in biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, and completed postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology. She has a bachelor’s in biochemistry from the University of Washington. She joined the Washington University faculty in 2007.

Sophia E. Hayes


Hayes, professor of chemistry and interim vice dean of graduate education in Arts & Sciences, is being honored for leadership leveraging solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) on collaborative teams as a resource for materials science, and for science communication on climate change and U.S. helium reserve challenges.

As a scholar, Hayes strives to understand the structure and properties of different types of inorganic systems, including semiconductors and other optically and electronically active materials, using NMR and other tools. She has received extensive research funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy, holds a patent related to optics and has published research in numerous scientific journals. Last year she received the American Physical Society’s 5-Sigma Physicist Award in recognition of her professional service to the community.

Hayes’ scientific career has been highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, involving colleagues from across the globe. Graduate student training and communicating science to the public are particularly important to her. She has testified before Congress, engages with TEDx as a speaker and trainer, and incorporates data visualization and science communication skills throughout the courses she teaches. Hayes also co-founded the Blue Skies discussion group, where K-12 educators discuss energy and environmental issues with scientists working in these fields.

Hayes earned her PhD in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and also completed an executive education program at Olin Business School. She earned her bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Hayes joined the Washington University faculty in 2001.

Erik Herzog


Herzog, professor of biology and the Viktor Hamburger Distinguished Professor, is being honored for showing us the importance and mechanisms of clocks and timing to all aspects of life.

Herzog is a chronobiologist who studies the molecules, cells and circuits that underlie daily rhythms in physiology and behavior. Researchers in his laboratory have discovered mechanisms underlying how circadian clocks synchronize to each other to regulate physiology, behavior and health. Herzog’s research has been supported by grants from agencies including the NSF, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the March of Dimes with clinical applications in treating pre-term birth and brain cancers.

At Washington University, Herzog helped develop a selective and popular neuroscience track for undergraduates majoring in biology. He has led the NINDS BP-ENDURE: St. Louis Neuroscience Pipeline since 2015. His excellence in teaching and mentoring has been recognized at local and national levels, including with the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience.

Herzog is an active member and past president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms. He is also a member of the Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board at the NIH. In these positions and others, he has worked to increase the numbers of women and people of color in the neuroscience workforce, and he gives additional time to mentor, recruit and teach high school students — especially those from St. Louis — through outreach efforts such as the Brain Bee, NeuroDay and the Young Scientist Program.

Herzog earned his PhD in neuroscience at Syracuse University. He has a bachelor’s in biology and in Spanish from Duke University. Herzog joined the Washington University faculty in 2000.

Mark A. McDaniel


McDaniel, director for the Center of Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) and professor of psychological and brain sciences, is being honored for distinguished contributions to the study of prospective memory and for his inspiring work on applying cognitive psychology to enhance educational effectiveness.

Prospective memory is the ability to remember to do something you previously planned.   

As principal investigator in the Memory and Complex Learning Lab, McDaniel researches various topics in the area of human learning and memory. A theme that connects much of this research is the investigation of factors and processes leading to memory and learning failures. His research has been sponsored by the NIH, NASA, Institute of Education Sciences, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

With his research, McDaniel goes beyond reporting results, extending many of his theories into educationally relevant paradigms, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers and 50 book chapters, many of which offer practical guidance for educators.

He has co-authored three books and co-edited six, including those that offer evidence-based approaches to help anyone better understand and maintain their memory as they age.  

McDaniel has served as president of the American Psychological Association, Division 3 (2012-2013) and the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (1996-1997). He was honored by the International Conference on Prospective Memory with the Lifetime Achievement Award and is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Psychological Association, Divisions 3 and 20.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and psychology from Oberlin College and his master’s degree and PhD, both in experimental psychology, from the University of Colorado, Boulder. McDaniel joined Washington University in 2004.

Jay W. Ponder


Ponder, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences and of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the School of Medicine, is being honored for distinguished contributions to teaching and research in the field of computational chemistry and molecular modeling, particularly for the development of polarizable biomolecular force fields and molecular dynamics software.

Ponder’s research is focused on prediction and modeling of structural chemistry and the relation of structure to molecular properties, particularly for biopolymers. He and members of his lab develop and apply computational tools addressing unsolved problems in structural biology, protein engineering, receptor-ligand binding, intermolecular interactions and conformational sampling.

Ponder leads an international collaboration that writes and distributes a suite of software packages for large-scale macromolecular mechanics and dynamics simulations (Tinker, Tinker9 and Tinker-HP), as well as molecular visualization tools (Force Field Explorer).

Ponder’s group developed the widely used AMOEBA polarizable atomic multipole force field, which is considered one of the most accurate classical biomolecular models currently available. He is now applying this model to a series of problems related to ligand design. He has recently co-founded a biotech startup company, Qubit Pharmaceuticals, to apply this methodology in drug discovery.

At Washington University, Ponder has taught undergraduate chemistry including sophomore-level organic chemistry and courses on simulation and molecular modeling, as well as graduate-level courses in biology, molecular biophysics and chemistry.

Ponder earned a PhD in chemistry from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics and in chemistry from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. Ponder joined the Washington University faculty in 1989.

Crickette Sanz


Sanz, professor of biological anthropology, is being honored for outstanding work on primates, particularly chimpanzees, as they relate to their environment.

As co-principal investigator of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, Sanz studies the behavioral ecology of the central subspecies of chimpanzee and western lowland gorillas, including the social and ecological factors shaping their complex lives. 

The project was initiated in 1999 in response to the lack of knowledge about chimpanzees in the Congo Basin and the growing threat of logging that these apes were facing in the Republic of Congo. Research by Sanz and her collaborators spurred the country to enlarge its Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park boundaries to include the Goualougo Triangle. Sanz also pioneered new technology in the study of chimpanzee behavior by introducing camera traps; improved estimates of ape densities; and conducted long-term monitoring of apes at risk. Her research and outreach efforts also extend to apes in captive settings, such as the Saint Louis Zoo and Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida.

Sanz is particularly interested in the tool-using traditions of chimpanzees and the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas. These studies hold important insights for primate evolutionary history, which aid in constructing valid models of human evolution from our closest living relatives.

Sanz won the Ai’s Scarf Award. She is a research fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society and an adjunct scientist with the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Illinois. She also works with the Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University

Sanz earned her master’s and PhD in biological anthropology from Washington University. She also holds a master’s in experimental psychology from Central Washington University. She earned her bachelor’s in experimental psychology from Central Washington University. Sanz joined the Washington University faculty in 2009.

This story originally appeared in The Source.