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Friday, September 22, 2023

Faculty & Staff

Biology professor earns peers’ honor, praise

Biology Department Chairman Stuart Dryer is one of 531 people who have received the distinction of fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“For me, it’s a significant career milestone,” Dryer said. “Everyone likes to get an award, and it’s nice to know that there is someone out there reading your stuff.”

Dryer’s contributions to biology will be honored at a forum on Feb. 20 during the annual AAAS meeting in San Diego. He is the fifth UH faculty member recognized to date.

“It’s really important for me to say that no professor can be successful if you don’t have good students and post docs,” Dryer said. “Without them, none of this could be done.

“I do writing, get grants, work on experimental designs, analyze data, but without the skills of students and post docs, none of this work could happen. I’ve been very fortunate to have a good run of skilled motivated students, which is true now more than ever.”

Dryer, who has served as chairman of the Biology Department for the last seven years, believes the attention the honor brings to UH is more important than his success.

“I would be just as happy if anyone in the Biology Department won this award,” he said. “To me, this award means you can be successful at this school if you’re a student or faculty.”

Founded in 1848, AAAS is an organization of scientists from across the country who’ve teamed up to advance modern science. According to the group’s Web site, fellows are recognized for their meritorious efforts to move science and its application forward.

To become a fellow, one must first be nominated by members of AAAS or its chief executive officer. Stanley Appel, chairman of the Department of Neurology at Methodist Hospital, nominated Dryer for the award.

Dryer said his lab studies a class of proteins known as Ion Channels. Ion Channels are tiny gates on the cell surface that open and close. When they open, they allow little charged particles called ions to move in and out of the cell, changing the cell’s molecular state.

Most scientists tend to study the short-term effects of ion channels. Dryer, however, broke away from the norm and decided to study the long-term effects of ion channel regulation.

“The unifying theme of my research lab has been to study how ion channels are regulated in cells over very long periods of time,” he said. “Also, we do studies on how the cell decides where to put these ion channels.  Different channels tend to be localized in different locations”.

Dryer started his undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa. Years later, he graduated with a doctorate from St. Louis University. Dryer continued his education at the University of Colorado in Denver’s medical school.

After completing his studies, he began teaching in Florida State University’s Biology Department. He taught in Florida for nine years and spent a year teaching at Harvard Medical School before arriving at UH in 1997.

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