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Rensselaer Professors Toh-Ming Lu and Wilfredo Colón Elected as 2007 AAAS Fellows

Mon, 2007-10-29 14:20 -- Anonymous

October 29, 2007

Troy, N.Y. — Toh-Ming Lu, the R.P. Baker Distinguished Professor of Physics, and Wilfredo Colón, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology, have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers are two of 471 newly elected follows recognized for their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Lu is cited for “seminal contributions to the fundamental understanding of thin film morphological evolution.” 

Colón is cited for “distinguished contribution to the understanding of protein folding and misfolding, and for his encouragement of under-represented minority students into careers in science.”

Rensselaer has had eight faculty members elected as fellows in the past five years. Last year, Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson and Gwo-Ching Wang, department chair and professor of physics, were elected fellows. Jackson is past president of the scientific society (2004) and past chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors (2005). 

The 2007 fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Feb. 16 at the Fellows Forum during the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

Lu’s research strives to develop new, high-performing nanostructures that can be used in integrated electronics, semiconductors, and energy storage devices. His lab uses novel approaches to develop unique nanostructures and analyze those structures as they grow. His imaging and analysis techniques allow researchers to fully understand how and why different growth techniques grow nanomaterials in the very specific ways. His lab is also developing techniques that deposit ultra-thin layers of conductive metals and dielectrics on to surfaces to develop new, super-fast and efficient electronics and nanodevices.  

Lu joined Rensselaer in 1982. He formerly served as director of the Center for Advanced Interconnect Science and Technology and chairman of the Physics Department at Rensselaer. Lu is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Vacuum Society. He has earned numerous other honors, including Rensselaer’s Early Career Award in 1986, the SRC Invention Award in 1988, the Rensselaer Center for Integrated Electronics Faculty Award in 1993, the William Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award in 2002, Materials Research Society Medal Award in 2004, and SRC Faculty Leadership Award in 2005. Lu earned a bachelor’s in physics from Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, a master’s in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Colón’s research focuses on proteins and the chemical and physical principles that cause them to acquire and retain their functional three-dimensional structure, a process known as folding. In order to maintain life, proteins must fold in very specific ways. When proteins misfold, they can cause disease. Colón’s lab is studying the structural mechanisms of protein folding and working to understand the molecular basis for why certain proteins misfold. His ultimate goal is to facilitate the rational design of therapeutics for protein misfolding diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease (FALS), type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Colón is also an extremely active educator. In particular he works to encourage and mentor students from underrepresented minorities to pursue successful career in science.

Colón joined Rensselaer in 1997 after serving as a postdoctoral associate at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He was a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow. He received a Research Corporation Innovation Award in 1999, an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2000, the prestigious NSF Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2001, and the Rensselaer Early Career Award in 2002.  He also has earned the American Heart Association’s Scientist Development Award and a New Faculty Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Colón earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rice at Mayagüez and a doctorate in chemistry from Texas A&M University.

Also elected as a fellow was former Rensselaer professor Pulickel M. Ajayan. Ajayan was cited for “sustained and seminal contribution to the material science and applications of carbon nanotubes.”  During his time at Rensselaer, Ajayan’s research focused on nanostructures. He is one of the pioneers in the field of carbon nanotubes and has demonstrated several possibilities for using the structures as templates and molds for fabricating nanowires, composites, and novel ceramic fibers.

About AAAS
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) 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. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542
E-mail: demarg@rpi.edu