Three UA Faculty Members Named AAAS Fellows
Carol Bender, Judith K. Brown and Dennis L. Lichtenberger have been elected based on their work being deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

University Relations - Communications
Nov. 23, 2015


Carol Bender speaks during the orientation session for students in the UA's Undergraduate Biology Research Program, which she oversees.
Carol Bender speaks during the orientation session for students in the UA's Undergraduate Biology Research Program, which she oversees. (Photo courtesy of Carol Bender)

A global network of scientists has elected three University of Arizona faculty members American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows, a distinction awarded to those who are advancing science in ways that are considered scientifically or socially distinguished.

Dozens of UA faculty members have been named fellows of AAAS, the largest general scientific society in the world. This year's fellows from the UA are:

  • University Distinguished Outreach Professor Carol Bender, Undergraduate Biology Research Program director, "for distinguished contributions to the assessment of undergraduate science research experiences nationally and internationally, including the impact of research experiences on career trajectories and satisfaction."
  • Judith K. Brown, a plant sciences and BIO 5 Institute professor, "for pioneering international work on emergent plant viruses, and for distinguished contributions to research on plant-pathogen-vector interactions including functional genomics of vector-mediated pathogen transmission."
  • Dennis L. Lichtenberger, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, "for pioneering the precise measure of electron energies in metal-containing molecules, and for uncovering the ways in which these energies determine chemical, catalytic and physical behavior."

All told, 347 AAAS members were named fellows this year, formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the Nov. 27 issue of Science. Each fellow also will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin during a Feb. 13 event to be held during the AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Carol Bender

Bender was hired at the University in 1988. She helped to establish high-impact educational experiences, such as UBRP and the Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open! (BRAVO!) Program, which have national and international impact.

UBRP teaches undergraduate students how science is done by involving them in research. Since 1989, UBRP has grown from 19 students to 140 students, now with faculty mentors representing 43 different departments in both Tucson and Phoenix. To date, more than 2,000 students have benefited directly from the program, which has been supported by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Beckman Foundation and UBRP mentors' research grants, in addition to internal funds.

To help students understand their role in society as future scientists, health care providers and voters, Bender organizes activities to supplement the research experience, including an annual ethics retreat where students discuss issues of importance in the conduct of science and medicine and consider the challenges that will call on the coordinated efforts of the next generation of scientists.

Bender also engages students in BRAVO!, which, since 1992,  has supported 250 students doing research in 37 countries. UBRP and BRAVO! students have gone on to earn advanced degrees that prepared them for careers in science, health care and other professions.

In 1997, Bender participated in the Fulbright-sponsored International Education Administrators Program in Japan as a Senior Fulbright Scholar. In 2011, she participated in the Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administrators Seminar in India. She was a founding member and president of the Arizona chapter of the Fulbright Association and in 2011 was named University Distinguished Outreach Professor.

Judith K. Brown

Brown, a professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, earned her doctorate from the UA in 1984.

Brown has been involved as a UBRP mentor, has studied emerging insect-transmitted viral and bacterial pathogens of plants in more than 65 countries, and has carried out collaborative research in Asia, Africa and the tropical Americas.

She is a world authority on whitefly-transmitted viruses and vector biotypes. Her work uses DNA tools to understand causal agents and ways to control them in disease-stricken crop plants, often on a grand scale. Examples include geminivirus-caused pandemics of cotton in Pakistan, India and China and of cassava crops in more than 10 sub-Saharan Africa countries.

In the Americas, Brown is researching DNA and RNA whitefly-transmitted viruses affecting vegetables, and psyllid-borne pathogens that cause tomato vein greening and citrus greening. Brown shares her findings, which can affect local economies and food supplies, through numerous task forces, working groups, consultancies and presentations globally. Her laboratory has hosted more than 60 visiting scholars and graduate students from more than 20 countries.

For her contributions, Brown was named a fellow by the American Phytopathological Society in 2011. 

Dennis L. Lichtenberger

Lichtenberger was selected for pioneering the precise measure of electron energies in complex molecules and for uncovering the ways in which these energies determine chemical, catalytic and physical behavior.

The principles that have emerged from his research are fundamental to broad areas of industrial catalysis, electronic materials, biological functions, and, most recently, converting solar energy to clean and sustainable fuels.

He has developed both instrumentation and theory to probe and understand the nature of matter at the level of electronic structure. A unique feature of his research is the development of gas-phase photoelectron spectroscopy that can measure the electron energies of large molecules. The instrumentation capabilities he has developed in his laboratory are unparalleled. Scientists worldwide have applied this instrumentation to a wide range of chemical systems.

A member of UA's chemistry faculty since 1976, Lichtenberger has been awarded the UA's Faculty of Science Distinguished Teaching Award and the University Graduate and Professional Education Teaching and Mentoring Award. Lichtenberger is also a fellow of the UA College of Science's Galileo Circle.

Lichtenberger served as head of the UA Department of Chemistry from 1994 to 2002, as chair of the Organometallic Subdivision of the American Chemical Society and as an associate editor of the American Chemical Society journal, Organometallics.

Extra info

The 27th annual UA Undergraduate Biology Research Program Conference will be held on Jan. 23 from noon to 5 p.m. in the Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building, 1064 E. Lowell St. The event will include hands-on science activities for families from noon to 1 p.m., a keynote speech at 1 by Dr. Mounir Koussa, a UBRP alumnus and doctoral candidate in the Harvard Program in Neuroscience, and a poster session at 2 showcasing the work of UBRP students. The event is free and open to the public.


Resources for the media

Carol Bender

UA Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology



Judith K. Brown

UA School of Plant Sciences



Dennis L. Lichtenberger

UA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry