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Two UCSC scientists elected AAAS Fellows

By Tim Stephens

Two UCSC scientists--Anthony Fink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Russell Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology--are among the 2004 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced by the association this week.

Russell Flegal Photo: UCSC Photo Services

Anthony Fink Photo: Tim Stephens

Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon members of AAAS by their peers.

The association is recognizing 308 members as fellows this year for their efforts to advance science or its applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. New fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin on Saturday, February 19, at the Fellows Forum during the 2005 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Fink was elected as part of the Section on Chemistry for his distinguished contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of enzyme mechanisms, protein-folding, molecular chaperones, and diseases involving protein aggregation and deposition. Fink's research has implications for understanding and treating diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

One of his major research projects, for example, is an investigation of the protein alpha-synuclein, which aggregates and forms deposits called Lewy bodies in Parkinson's disease. He is studying the mechanism of aggregation and the role of various factors, both in the body and in the environment, that influence aggregation of this protein. He is also working to develop drugs that can be used to combat Parkinson's disease.

Fink earned his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1969.

As part of the Section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences, Flegal was elected for his distinguished contributions to the fields of environmental biogeochemistry, environmental toxicology, and human health using stable lead isotopic composition analyses, and for interpreting and communicating that research to the public to address human health concerns with lead toxicity. Flegal studies how human activities affect the cycling of trace elements in the environment, investigating a broad range of topics involving metal contaminants such as lead, mercury, and chromium in aquatic and human environments. His work often has significant public health implications and relates directly to state and federal policy issues.

Flegal served as the founding chair of UCSC's Department of Environmental Toxicology, which was established in 2000. He received the 1999-2000 Outstanding Faculty Award from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences. Flegal earned his Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University. He came to UCSC in 1985 as a research geochemist and joined the faculty as a professor of Earth sciences in 1992.

This year's AAAS Fellows were announced in the journal Science on October 29. The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874.

The AAAS, which publishes the journal Science, is the world's largest general scientific society. It was founded in 1848 and serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. 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, and more.

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