Two faculty members named AAAS Fellows

David Leitner and Wei Yan receive national recognition for their distinguished contributions to science

Wei Yan (left) and David Leitner (right) have both been elected as 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows.

11/21/2017 | By: Grant Conley |

Each year, the distinction of American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow is awarded in recognition of individual contributions to the sciences. Recipients of this honor are chosen for their outstanding leadership, public service, research achievements and academic activity. Out of only 396 elected 2017 AAAS Fellows, two faculty members of the University of Nevada, Reno are being recognized for their outstanding work: Wei Yan of the School of Medicine and David Leitner of the College of Science.

"Both Professors Yan and Leitner are extraordinarily accomplished scholars," says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Carman. "They are both recognized as true pioneers and leaders in their respective disciplines. Their election as AAAS Fellows is richly deserved and, in my opinion, long overdue."

Wei Yan of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology has been with the University Of Nevada, Reno for nearly fourteen years, during which he has often been recognized for his work. His research focuses on reproductive biology, the area for which he was elected as Fellow. Specifically, Yan is being recognized for "distinguished contributions to the field of reproduction, particularly for elucidating the role of small RNAs in fertility control and epigenetic inheritance." These advancements are only the most recent of Yan's impressive research; he has already appeared in numerous publications and news articles for his work in fertility and reproductive biology.

"I am very humbled by this recognition," says Yan. "This is a great honor, which belongs to not only me, but also my lab members and my institution. I am so glad that our work was appreciated by our peers, and I will continue to make contributions to our understanding of reproduction and its impact on human health."

Yan has been awarded for his work in reproductive biology several times throughout his career. Since earning both his Ph.D. and his M.D. degrees, he has been recognized by renowned organizations such as Anthem Blue Cross Shield and the American Society of Andrology, and he was named the University's 2017 Outstanding Researcher. He is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Biology of Reproduction.

David Leitner has been a member of the Department of Chemistry for almost eighteen years and has been contributing consistently remarkable work to the field the entire time. Beginning as an assistant professor in 2000, Leitner already had a hand in over 40 publications and papers-a number that grew to more than 100 in the ensuing years.

"It is a great honor to receive this recognition from AAAS for our work in the molecular sciences," says Leitner.

In particular, Leitner's work in molecular energy transport has been highly recognized and is a major reason for his election to AAAS Fellow. As noted in the official announcement, Leitner's election is due to his "distinguished contributions to the theory of molecular energy transport which have provided fundamental understanding of heat transport processes in biological systems and molecular junctions." Before this honor, Leitner received various awards and titles for his work in chemical physics, including Fellow of the American Physical Society and the University's 2014 Outstanding Researcher award. Currently, Leitner serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Chemical Physics and is an editor for Scientific Reports.

Not only do these achievements reflect well on Yan and Leitner; the whole of the University of Nevada, Reno is proud to be home to such outstanding faculty.

Both Yan and Leitner are joining a prestigious group of Fellows both at the University and across the country. The AAAS, which is the largest scientific society in the world, has presented the honor of Fellow to its most outstanding members for nearly 150 years. Here at the University, several have been recipients of the award, including Thomas Bell of the Department of Chemistry, Gary Blomquist of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Peter Brussard of the Department of Biology (emeritus), Provost Carman, Robert Elston of the Department of Anthropology, Jeff Harper of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Tom Nickles of the Department of Philosophy (emeritus), and David Lightner of the Department of Chemistry (emeritus).

On Feb. 17, 2018, Leitner and Yan will join the 394 others to be inducted as new Fellows during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. All new Fellows will be presented with a certificate and a blue and gold pin to commemorate their election.


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