Barbara Schaal chosen president-elect of AAAS

Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been elected president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

A world-renowned evolutionary plant biologist widely recognized for her pioneering research, Schaal is also the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences.

She begins her three-year term as an officer and member of the AAAS Board of Directors’ Executive Committee Feb. 17 at the close of the 181st AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, California.

Her one-year term as president of AAAS, which publishes the journals Science, Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling, begins in February 2016. After her tenure as president, she will chair the AAAS Board of Directors for a year.

“Barbara Schaal is a distinguished member of the Washington University faculty who has made great contributions not only through pathbreaking research, exemplary teaching, and strong leadership at the university, but also through many key national appointments in which she has shared her expertise and commitment to advancing science,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“I am pleased that she has been elected by the AAAS membership to take on the additional role of president-elect and then president of one of the most prestigious and vital scientific organizations in the world.”

“I am very much looking forward to my term as AAAS president,” said Schaal, who recently served as chair of the AAAS section on biological sciences. “I’m particularly interested in communicating the value of the basic research enterprise for our nation’s economic future and the well-being of citizens. I’m also interested in supporting the STEM activities of AAAS.”

Strong research, leadership, national service

Schaal was among the first plant scientists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked to advance understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics.

Her recent work includes collaborating with students and peers to research the evolutionary genetics of plants in hopes of enriching crops such as rice.

In 2005, Schaal became the first woman elected vice president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and was re-elected for another four-year term in 2009.

That same year, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a post she still holds today. 

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