On January 31, chemistry professor Ana de Bettencourt-Dias was officially named part of the class of 2022 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellows.
“I’m ecstatic,” de Bettencourt-Dias said.
As an AAAS Fellow, de Bettencourt-Dias is recognized for her scientific and socially notable achievements throughout her career. de Bettencourt-Dias studies light-emitting compounds and previously studied them in the context of commercial lighting. Her research focus has shifted recently to the medical applications that some of the compounds could have.
“My students and I are developing these molecules that will go into the cells preferentially,” de Bettencourt-Dias said. Based on the intensity of the light emissions from the cells, researchers will be able to determine the temperature of the cells. This has applications for cancer research and therapeutics because cancer cells have different temperatures than healthy cells.
de Bettencourt-Dias hasn’t been daunted by the significant shift in her research interests, though.
“We all want to make a difference with the research we do, right?” she said.
de Bettencourt-Dias is excited for the opportunity to continue to advocate for science. She has some practice from her role as the Associate Vice President for Research, which she served in for four years, as well as being a faculty member and advocating for her colleagues and students.
“Communication is always very important,” de Bettencourt-Dias said. “When you are trying to talk with students, with colleagues, with the general public, I think all of these roles that I have had at the University have given me the opportunity to improve my communication skills in all those areas.”
de Bettencourt-Dias also added that having four AAAS Fellows at the University this year elevates the status of the University.
“I’ve spent most of my career here at the University,” de Bettencourt-Dias. “Yes, there might be higher ranked institutions, but we do great work here at the University. I think these awards really make the University a better place and also increase our ability to be recognized in the national arena as an institution where good research is done.”
Last year, de Bettencourt-Dias was named a Foundation Professor at the University, and she was a member of the 2021 class of Fellows of the American Chemical Society. de Bettencourt-Dias is the Susan Magee and Gary Clemons Professor of Chemistry and has been at the University for almost 16 years. de Bettencourt-Dias joins Lee Dyer in the College of Science and John Cushman and Mae Gustin in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources as part of the newly elected class of AAAS Fellows.