Professor joins elite science group

Richard C. Willson was named a 2010 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest science society, and publisher for the journal “Science.”

Willson was among 503 members named Fellows for 2010. The award winners are selected by their peers based on their work towards the advancement of science and their scientific and social impact.

“I’m very honored, and I’m particularly happy to be recognized by AAAS because it’s a very important group in the US, and one important to me as a teenager,” Willson said.

Willson was selected for his “distinguished contributions to bio-molecular recognition sciences and its applications and for development of technologies for rapid characterization of catalysts and nucleic acids,” according to the AAAS.

“Attending their Denver meeting when I was in High School was a great inspiration to me,” Wilson said.

Willson cites the influence of his family as a driving force behind his passion for the field of science.

“Many generations of the first-born sons of my family have been chemists, chemical engineers, biochemists, and brewers,” Willson said. “We’ve even traced it back to alchemists. It seems to be a genetic defect. I considered going to medical school, but for me this is a better way to contribute to human health.”

Willson will be formally honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

“AAAS is in D.C. because it’s nationwide, and works on science policy and societal impact issues as well as science and technology,” Willson said. “This lends a certain extra feeling of significance.”

Despite being officially recognized, Willson knows his work is not done.

“I plan to continue to do more of the same,” Willson said. “I will develop ways of making biotech pharmaceuticals, and diagnosing cancer and infectious diseases using nanotechnology tools.”

Willson received his bachelor’s and master’s from the California Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering and obtained a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He has also worked on over 60 publications relating to his various research interests.

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