Colorado State University Chemistry, Biology Chairs Elected Fellows of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Note to Reporters: Photos of Professors Daniel R. Bush and Ellen R. Fisher are available with the news release at

Two chairs of the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University – Daniel R. Bush in biology and Ellen R. Fisher in chemistry – have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a prestigious peer honor awarded to a select group of scientists across the country each year.

Bush is being recognized for research on plant assimilate metabolism and for his service as president of the American Society of Plant Biologists and chair of the AAAS Section on Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources. Fisher is being honored for her important contributions to understanding of gas-phase and plasma chemistry and plasma-surface interactions.

They are the only Colorado State University scientists to be named in this year’s class of Fellows.

“This recognition is a testament to the outstanding work done by Drs. Bush and Fisher – and to our Colorado State University faculty in general,” said Provost Rick Miranda. “We are second in the nation for our federal research expenditures – among all public universities without a medical school – in part because of the leadership provided by such faculty members as Dr. Bush and Dr. Fisher. Our students benefit from the intellectual excitement and challenges provided by having these great individuals and their peers as their teachers and mentors.”

“As the largest and most prestigious general science society, election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is a distinguished honor,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. Ellen and Dan have each made important contributions to science and having them recognized by AAAS, and in the same year, is extraordinary.”

Daniel R. Bush

Bush is a plant biologist who uses biochemical and molecular genetic tools to dissect plant function. His laboratory provided the first biochemical and molecular descriptions of several plant sugar and amino acid transport systems that are key contributors to resource allocation within cells and between plant organs. Bush and his research associates are using their discoveries about the regulation of sugar partitioning to different organs to increase plant growth. The aim of that research is to maximize plant biomass generation for both food and biofuel.

Earlier this year, Bush was one of three co-principal investigators to receive a $1.35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to discover genes that control plant biomass as a feedstock for biofuel. The award is the second for the multi-disciplinary team. In 2008, they received $1.5 million from the DOE and USDA to use rice as a model grass for biomass gene discovery. Armed with that knowledge, they’re now turning to switchgrass, a non-food crop that is being developed as a new energy crop for biofuels. Bush was the lead scientist on a $400,000 USDA-AFRI grant this spring that focuses on improving sugar transport in sugar beet as a novel approach for improving yield. He is also a co-principal investigator on a $3 million National Science Foundation education grant to provide interdisciplinary biofuels training for doctoral students.

In addition to his work in the laboratory, Bush leads the Department of Biology at CSU that ranks among the top 10 undergraduate programs in the country. Biology faculty are distinguished researchers and educators with more than $28 million dollars in active research grants and multiple college teaching awards. Individual recognition in the department includes a University Distinguished Professor and several AAAS Fellows.

He is a former President of the American Society of Plant Biologists, former Chair of the Section on Agriculture, Food and Renewable Resources for AAAS, and serves on the editorial boards of four professional journals.

Ellen R. Fisher

Fisher is an analytical, materials and physical chemist whose work focuses on understanding the fundamental chemical processes that take place during plasma processing and chemical vapor deposition. She also works to advance applications for semiconductor materials, improve solar cell efficiency, develop composite nanomaterials and explore environmental applications for plasma chemistry. Fisher’s cutting-edge research has resulted in three patents, more than 125 peer-reviewed journal articles and 100 invited talks.

Her numerous scholarly activities have included directing the Chemistry department’s National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and co-founding and serving as the director for the Women in Natural Sciences group. Fisher is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society and a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Materials Research Society. She also serves as an associate editor for the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, as well as on several other scientific journal editorial boards.

Fisher was named a Professor Laureate in the College of Natural Sciences at CSU in 2009. In July 2009, she accepted the chair position in the department after serving for three years as associate chair. In 2010, the university’s Vice President for Research honored Fisher with the Scholarship Impact Award, one of the highest annual honors bestowed on a faculty member by the university. The award recognizes outstanding faculty whose scholarship has had a major impact nationally and/or internationally and comes with a $10,000 award. She joined Colorado State in 1993.

In addition to her work in the laboratory, Fisher leads a department that ranks among the top 50 graduate programs in the country and includes a University Distinguished Professor and several AAAS Fellows. The Chemistry department has annual research expenditures of more than $7 million and has been designated a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence for the past 15 years.