Professors earn science fellowship

December 6, 2017

Three University of Toledo professors were recently elected as fellows to a nonprofit organization that strives to make advancements in science.


American Association of the Advancement of Science elected Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College and professor in the department of environmental sciences, Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Steven Federman, a professor of astronomy.


According to the AAAS website, to become a fellow one must be a continuous four-year member of the organization who has scientifically or socially distinguished work.


“It is great to see three people from UT become fellows, especially two from the same department since only seven were selected from the astronomy section,” Federman said.


Bjorkman is currently researching the discs of gas and dust that form around stars, she said.


Appel said she is currently studying the defense mechanisms plants have against insects.


These defenses include chemical ones like spices, hearing when they are being attacked and sensing vibrations, she said.


She is also studying the chemical properties of mustard, red wine, fruits, vegetables and chocolate, Appel said.


The goal of this research is to better understand the medicinal and health benefits of these foods, which can help everyone, she said.


Federman studies the interstellar matter between stars and the Earth.


Utilizing spectroscopy, Federman uses “the star as a light bulb to observe the [chemical] signatures in interstellar matter between the star and us [Earth],” he said. 


He also studies the different isotopes of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen and how they are produced inside of stars. Specifically, he studies the formation of lithium, boron and rubidium, Federman said.

“It’s a nice acknowledgement that we have some really good people here, and I think it’s good for the university that people are recognizing that,” Bjorkman said.

UT President Sharon Gaber said she is proud of these three faculty members for earning this honor.


“This recognition by AAAS is an external validation of the talented experts on our campus,” Gaber said in a press release. “UT faculty make important contributions to their fields of study and actively engage our students in research projects in the process.”





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