NAU researchers Nancy Johnson and Laura Huenneke elected as 2020 AAAS Fellows

Nancy Johnson and Laura Huenneke

Northern Arizona University researchers Laura Foster Huenneke and Nancy Collins Johnson have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

This year, 489 members nationwide have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

“AAAS Fellows are selected by their peers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science based on their efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “Professors Huenneke and Johnson are receiving a distinction that is indicative of the depth of quality, talent and diversity of scientific study and research at NAU. In addition to the societal benefits of their contributions, this impactful and groundbreaking work directly benefits our students as they learn from such exceptional and dedicated faculty in the classroom, and through field and lab experiences.”

Nancy Johnson
Nancy Johnson

Johnson, who is a Regents’ professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability, was elected to the Section on Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources for her “distinguished contributions to the field of soil microbial ecology, with particular reference to advancing knowledge of the abundance, diversity and functioning of mycorrhizal fungi.” Earlier this year, she received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study how to more efficiently produce sorghum, which can be used to make biofuel.

“I’m thrilled to receive this honor. As a fellow, I look forward to participating more fully in advancing the mission of AAAS, especially as it relates to fostering education in science and technology for everyone and strengthening the voice of science on societal issues,” Johnson said. “A big focus of my academic career has been dedicated to expanding science education, especially for groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields.”

Huenneke, who is a professor emeritus of environmental science, was elected to the Section on Biological Sciences for her “service to the discipline of ecology; to university education; and to advancing our understanding of relationships among biodiversity, ecosystem function and invasive species.”

“I was excited to come to NAU as a dean back in 2003, because I knew this is a great institution in which to be an ecologist, and it remains that today,” Huenneke said. “I’m deeply honored by this recognition from AAAS, one of the world’s most influential scientific societies, and so appreciative of the peers who nominated me.”

Regents’ professor Paul Keim was elected as an AAAS Fellow in 2015 and professor Stephen Shuster was elected as an AAAS Fellow in

Laura Huenneke
Laura Huenneke


Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 27. A virtual Fellows Forum—an induction ceremony for the new fellows—will be held on Feb. 13.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

AAAS encourages its sections and council to consider diversity among those nominated and selected as fellows, in keeping with the association’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Kerry Bennett | Office of the Vice President for Research

NAU Communications