Professor earns AAAS award for continued success

The University announced the selection of Anne Dranginis, Ph.D., a professor of Biology at the St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as a fellow of an exclusive global scientific society on Feb. 6.

Dranginis will be recognized at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows forum in Chicago, Illinois on Feb. 15 where she will be presented with an award in honor of advanced study and research.

Dranginis has served as both an anchor and inspiration in the University’s scientific programs, particularly the area of molecular biology, for over 20 years.

She has been a prominent faculty member in both the graduate and undergraduate programs in the department of biological sciences, and has helped shape the department’s courses to provide students with a broad background in biology.

Her main emphasis has been molecular control of development in yeast and regulation of gene transcription. During her time at the University, Dranginis discovered and characterized a key fungal adhesion molecule, which has proven to be the key player in cell adhesion within a variety of types of fungal communities.

“I study the bread yeast saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is called a ‘model organism’ because it is a good, cheap and convenient model for many fundamental biological processes as well as for the biology of human cells,” she said.

The discovery of this cell adherence has led to explanations of fungal behavior and growth, and has proven to have implications beyond the field of basic research. This discovery is applicable in both the medical fields, as well as industrial fields, such as the brewing and winemaking industries.

As the world’s largest general scientific society, the AAAS is an international non-profit organization that formed in 1848. The mission of this organization is to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people,” according to their website.

The AAAS Council annually nominates new fellows who have been elected and recognized by their peers for their extensive efforts to advance science and research.

Dranginis felt humbled by distinction given from her colleagues.

“One must be nominated by several colleagues in the same field of scientific work, and elected by a committee of the AAAS,” Dranginis said. “That is the real honor: the knowledge that one’s colleagues respect one’s work enough to do that.”

Aside from the AAAS, from 1992-1997, Dranginis was awarded the Clare Boothe Luce Professorship. From 1999-2000, she was awarded the Faculty Researcher of the Year, in which she was recognized for her “”accomplishments in research resulting in receipt of competitive grants from both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.” In 2003, she was awarded the Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship Award for excellence in graduate teaching.