Pitt’s Anthony Grace, Christian Schunn Named Fellows By American Association for the Advancement of Science

Issue Date: 
January 9, 2012

Two University of Pittsburgh professors in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences—cognition scientists Anthony Grace and Christian Schunn—have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the contributions they have made toward the advancement of their respective fields.

The two Pitt faculty honorees are among 539 Fellows selected in 2011, joining faculty from such other elite institutions of higher education as Columbia University, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University. The Fellows will be honored Feb. 18 during the annual AAAS meeting in Washington, D.C.

Information on the new Fellows from Pitt follows.

Anthony Grace, Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, was honored as a Fellow for his contributions to cellular and systems studies of the brain’s dopamine system (a group of cells affecting happiness and personality) as it relates to understanding the mechanisms of schizophrenia. Grace also serves as professor of psychiatry and psychology and is a training faculty member in Pitt’s Center for Neuroscience.

Grace’s research lies at the interface of neurobiology and psychiatry. His experiments have focused on dopaminergic systems with the goal of determining how neurobiology relates to mental disorders—and how psychotherapeutic drugs tie in, as well. Grace’s current studies into the neurobiology of schizophrenia involve the interaction of the prefrontal cortex—the region of the brain associated with personality and social behavior—with antipsychotic drugs. He also is examining the impact of the developmental disruption this has on the function of the limbic system—a set of brain structures that support emotion, behavior, and memory—as a model for the pathophysiological changes underlying schizophrenia in humans.

Grace, who serves on Pitt’s Center for Neuroscience’s Executive and Faculty Admissions committees and on the MD and PhD Degree Supervisory Committee, serves as coprincipal investigator for five grant-related projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals. He has authored or coauthored 166 publications in academic journals such as Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has written book chapters and reviews for 76 publications, including Dopamine and Schizophrenia (2011) published by Blackwell Press and Dopamine Modulation of Forebrain Pathways and the Pathophysiology of Psychiatric Disorders (2009) published by Oxford University Press. Additionally, he has been invited to and presented at more than 100 conferences.

Grace received the CINP-Lilly Neuroscience Basic Research Award (2008), a Merit Award (2007) from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Dr. Paul Janssen Schizophrenia Research Award (2000) from the International Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Daniel H. Efron Award (1999) from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a Distinguished Investigator Award (1998) from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

Grace earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and biology from Allegheny College and his PhD degree in pharmacology from Yale University. He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1985 and was named Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience in 2010.

Christian Schunn, professor in the Department of Psychology, was honored as a Fellow for his distinguished contributions in bridging cognitive science research on reasoning and learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Schunn holds secondary appointments as professor of learning sciences and policy in Pitt’s School of Education and professor of intelligent systems in the Dietrich School, as well as serving as senior scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center.

More specifically, Schunn studies the processes of science and engineering teams, the Web-based peer-to-peer interactions that support learning, and the ways in which student engagement and reasoning processes interact in the science and technology arenas. In addition to pursuing research supported by several internal grants, Schunn serves as coprincipal investigator for 10 grant-related projects funded by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Institute for Educational Sciences. In 2009, he was honored with a Society Fellowship from the American Psychology Association. This year he was named chair of the executive committee of the International Society for Design and Development in Education. He is an editorial board member of the Journal of Educational Psychology, Cognitive Science, and the Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology. He has served as an editor for books such as Interdisciplinary Collaboration: An Emerging Cognitive Science (2005) and Designing for Science: Implications from Professional, Instructional, and Everyday Science (2001), both published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishing. With nearly 100 publications to his credit, he has had his work featured in such journals as Computers & Education, the Journal of Mechanical Design, and NeuroImage, and he currently has nine coauthored articles in press, two of them in forthcoming books. He has presented at more than 160 conferences and has been invited to deliver guest lectures at 25 colleges and universities.

Schunn received his undergraduate degree in psychology from McGill University in 1990 and his MS and PhD degrees in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 and 1995, respectively. He completed postdoctoral work in psychology at Carnegie Mellon from 1995 to 1998.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science serving 10 million individuals. The mission of the nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, and science education, among other areas.