May 4-10, 2001
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Arts and Sciences Academy chooses three from U.Va.
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Dave Allis Arts and Sciences Academy chooses three from U.Va.

By Robert Brickhouse

Three University faculty members are among 211 leaders in their fields recently elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of distinguished contributions to science, scholarship, public affairs or the arts. They bring to 16 the number of U.Va. faculty chosen for AAAS membership since 1992, and to approximately 30 those ever chosen from U.Va., in the highly competitive process.

Named to the learned society, founded in 1780 and representing one of the nation’s highest honors for scholarly and creative attainment, are biochemist C. David Allis, historian Edward L. Ayers and political scientist Matthew Holden Jr.

Allis, the Harry F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, is an internationally known biochemist whose work has led to key scientific breakthroughs about the cell. He came to U.Va. in 1998 from the University of Rochester, where he led a team of researchers to a major discovery of an enzyme that is thought to play a critical role in loosening chromatin, the protein coating that packages DNA inside cell nuclei. His team was the first to document that this process is a major step in turning genes on and off, and Allis continues to work with colleagues on identifying the specific steps in the cell cycle. The discovery, which is leading to treatments for various forms of cancer and possible methods to inhibit certain birth defects, is regarded as one of the most important genetic findings of the past decade.

Edward AyersAyers, the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History, has written and edited several important books about U.S. and Southern history. An award-winning teacher who joined the faculty in 1980, he is also a national leader in using technology in humanities research. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, a finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize in 1992, was named the best book on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South that year. His 1984 book, Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth-Century American South won the J. Willard Hurst Prize for best book in American legal history. He has also co-authored All over the Map: Rethinking American Regions and American Passages: A History of the United States, and was senior editor of The Oxford Book of the American South. His renowned Civil War digital history project, “The Valley of the Shadow,” has recently garnered major awards.

Matthew HoldenHolden, who holds the Doherty Professorship in Government and Foreign Affairs, is a past president of the American Political Science Association and has served as editor of the National Political Science Review. An authority on administrative process and national institutions, regulatory and energy policy, and urban government, he is the author of some 30 books and journal articles. Among his major books are Politics of the Black Nation, and The White Man’s Burden. He served as a presidential appointee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 1977-81.


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