Three Colorado State University Professors Named American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows

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Three Colorado State University faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Patrick Byrne, Debbie Crans, and Nora Lapitan are among 388 new fellows who will be recognized for their contributions to science and technology at this month’s AAAS meeting in Chicago.

“We are proud to have these esteemed scientists as part of our faculty here at Colorado State,” said Rick Miranda, CSU’s provost and executive vice president. “AAAS scholars give our students fantastic opportunities to learn from some of the best scholars among their disciplines, as well as provide other faculty unique opportunities for collaboration. We wish them the very best as they continue with their research and discovery here at CSU.”

Byrne, professor of soil and crop sciences, was cited for “pioneering work on the genetics of drought tolerance and disease resistance in plants, and exceptional public engagement on the science of genetically engineered organisms.”

Byrne’s work focuses on the application of quantitative and molecular genetics to crop improvement. He also uses quantitative trait locus analysis and association mapping to locate and characterize the genes that control abiotic stress tolerance and end-use quality in wheat; yield and oil content in Brassica oilseed crops; and, fungal disease resistance in common bean. He also conducts biotechnology risk assessments, for which he has estimated the level of gene flow between wheat and jointed goatgrass under Colorado conditions.

Byrne has a Ph.D. in agronomy and a master’s degree in horticulture, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He joined the CSU faculty as an assistant professor in 1997. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and of the Crop Science Society of America, and he served as both the chair and vice chair of the National Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee. His research has taken him all over the world, including to Adana, Turkey, where he was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Cukurova University.

Crans, professor of chemistry, was cited “for distinguished contributions elucidating the chemistry and biochemistry of vanadium, as well as professional service within the field of inorganic chemistry.” Her research focuses on the chemistry of transition metal compounds and she has expanded her work to include lipid and lipid-like environments in bulk and on the nanoscale. She has long been interested in the insulin-enhancing effect of vanadium and other transition metal compounds, and applications of metals in diabetes and cancer. This has led to projects in the application of colloidal systems for drug formulation and processing of biofuels as it involves lipid biomass conversions.

Crans has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the H. C. Ørsted Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. She joined the CSU faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor. She also is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and has won numerous awards for her research and teaching including a Sloan award; the first Vanadis Award; the Humboldt Research Award; the Japan Society of Promotion of Science Fellowship; the Lectureship Award from the Japanese Coordination Chemistry; and, a Best Teacher Award from Colorado State University.

Lapitan, professor of crop sciences, was cited for “distinguished contributions to the field of plant genomics, particularly in the study of genome organization and the genomics of important traits in crop species.” Lapitan focuses on DNA “intelligence,” examining how DNA structure fits its function and how DNA evolves to respond to the needs of the organism. Her research areas include the molecular interaction between insects and cereal hosts, DNA marker development for economically important traits in wheat and barley and implementation in plant breeding, and the application of functional genomics and proteomics to understand plant-insect interaction and identify genes for complex traits in wheat and barley.

Lapitan has both a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in genetics from Kansas State University and joined the CSU campus as an assistant professor in 1989. She has been an expert consultant and program director at the National Science Foundation and is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. She is also a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists and was the Division Excellence Seminar Speaker at the International Rice Research Institute in 2009.