Amara, Klinzing, Li Honored by AAAS

Issue Date: 
October 29, 2007

World’s largest society for general science names three Pitt faculty members fellows in engineering and neuroscience

Three University of Pittsburgh faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for their contributions to advancing science and its applications.

The AAAS is the world’s largest society for general science and publisher of the journal Science. AAAS members nominated and elected 471 fellows this year.

They were recognized Friday in the “AAAS News & Notes” section of Science and will be guests of the AAAS annual meeting in Boston on Feb. 16, 2008. The fellows from Pitt include Susan Amara, Thomas Detre Professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology in Pitt’s School of Medicine; Vice Provost for Research George E. Klinzing, the W.K. Whiteford Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in Pitt’s School of Engineering; and Ching-Chung Li, a professor of electrical engineering in Pitt’s School of Engineering.

Susan G. Amara

Amara was honored as a Fellow in Neuroscience for outstanding contributions to elucidating the dynamics of chemical neurotransmission and for service to the field of neuroscience.

Amara’s research focuses on neurotransmitter transporters, proteins on nervous system cell membranes that carry neurotransmitters—the chemicals that allow signaling between neurons and other cells—to specific locations.

Her major research pertains to the structure, regulation, and cellular physiology of two families of sodium-dependent neurotransmitter transporters: the biogenic amine and the excitatory amino acid carriers.

These transporters are central in nervous system function and control. For instance, transporters of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are well-established targets for addictive drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, and for therapeutic antidepressants.

Amara received her PhD degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1983.

George E. Klinzing

Klinzing was named an AAAS Fellow in Engineering. This designation recognizes Klinzing’s distinguished research contributions in gas-solid flows, exploring measurement techniques, electrostatic effects, flow mappings, and dense phase transport in an effort to improve system design.

His research focuses on solids processing in such areas as coal cleaning, coal-water slurries, and coal transport. He holds four patents in this area and has copyrights on four computer packages involving calculations and artificial intelligence.

Klinzing earned his PhD degree in chemical engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1963 and joined Pitt’s faculty in 1966 after three years on a University Development project in Quito, Ecuador.

Ching-Chung Li

Li also was named an AAAS Fellow in Engineering. Li received the honor for his research of pattern recognition, image processing, and biocybernetics.

His early research in modeling biocybernetic systems includes a nonlinear mathematical model of the secretory dynamics of the adrenal cortex, which mediates the body’s stress response by releasing hormones.

His contributions to biomedical pattern recognition include computer-aided early detection of pneumoconiosis (black lung) and automatic recognition of radiation-induced chromosome aberrations.

More recently, Li has focused on applying wavelet transforms—a mathematical theory for data representation—to pattern recognition and multiresolution image processing, including image compression, image fusion, and the secure sharing of secret images. Li completed his PhD and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Northwestern University in 1961 and 1956, respectively, and his B.S. degree in electrical engineering at the National Taiwan University in 1954. Li joined Pitt’s faculty in 1961. He holds a secondary appointment as a professor of computer science in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences.