Three CBS faculty members named AAAS fellows

November 24, 2020


2020 AAAS Fellows

Jessica Hellmann, Elizabeth Borer and Nathan Springer were all named 2020 AAAS fellows. 

College of Biological Sciences faculty members Elizabeth Borer, Jessica Hellmann and Nathan Springer are among the five University of Minnesota faculty named 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow.

Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year, 489 members nationwide were selected for this honor. 

Elizabeth Borer, Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Elizabeth Borer co-founded the Nutrient Network, a global ecological research collaborative that currently involves scientists at 140 sites spanning 26 countries, and is a principal investigator at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Her research focuses on ways that global changes interact to control the composition and function of ecological communities. She is among this year’s most cited researchers. Among her distinctions, Borer is an Ecological Society of America Fellow and a Leopold Leadership Program Fellow. 

“Global environmental challenges like pollution and biodiversity loss are playing out on every continent, but most of our data come from studies at just a few locations. In my research, I’m working to understand the ways that ecosystems are resilient or sensitive to these changes,” Borer says, “and to do this, I’m also working to envision and foster a new way to use large-scale international collaborative experimentation to study environmental change on Earth.”

Borer is being honored as an AAAS Fellow for her distinguished contributions to the field of ecology, particularly to nutrient dynamics of grassland ecosystems. 

Jessica Hellmann, Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Jessica Hellmann is the Russell M. & Elizabeth M. Bennett Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, director of the University’s Institute on the Environment and the Ecolab Chair for Environmental Leadership. Her research centers on global change ecology and climate adaptation as well as on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and she regularly advises state and national governments on environmental issues. Hellmann led an important paradigm shift in ecology and natural resource management by showing that adaptation — living with climate change — is just as crucial to the future of humanity and Earth’s ecosystems as slowing and stopping greenhouse gas emissions.  

”I’m working to understand how a changing climate affects our biosphere and what we can do to reduce those effects through smart natural resource management,” Hellmann says. “But my work in ecology also inspires me to do interdisciplinary work too, including work on the human consequences of climate change and ways to reduce and stop the emission of greenhouse gases.” 

Hellmann is being recognized as a AAAS Fellow for her distinguished contributions to and leadership in the fields of conservation biology and sustainability science, particularly organismal and society adaptation to climate change.

Nathan Springer, Professor, Plant and Microbial Biology
Nathan Springer is a McKnight Presidential Endowed Professor. His research focuses on the use of genetic and genomic approaches to study natural variation for gene expression and chromatin in maize. 

He studies how genomes of different individuals in a species vary and how this influences phenotype with an eye to improving predictions of traits based on genetic information. Among other distinctions, Springer received the 2019 Charles Albert Schull Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

“I have been tremendously fortunate to have the opportunity to work on interesting science questions with a set of wonderful collaborators,” Springer says. “Many highly talented individuals have been part of my research team and it has been a great pleasure to work with them and make new discoveries together.”  

Springer is being recognized as a AAAS Fellow for his distinguished contributions to genomics and epigenetics of crop plants, and their impact on variation of gene expression.

This year’s Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News and Notes section of the journal Science on Friday, November 27. A virtual Fellows Forum – an induction ceremony for the new Fellows – will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2021.