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Two Faculty Members Elected Fellows of AAAS

January 15, 2010 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University faculty members Alok Choudhary and D. James Surmeier have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

This year 531 members have been awarded the AAAS fellow honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Choudhary is the John G. Searle Professor and chair of the department of electrical engineering and computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also is a professor of technology industry management at the Kellogg School of Management.

Surmeier is the Nathan Smith Davis Professor and chair of the department of physiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. He also is director of Northwestern's Morris K. Udall Center for Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research.

Choudhary was honored by the AAAS for "distinguished contributions to the field of high-performance supercomputing, particularly for parallel input/output, architectures, system software and data intensive and mining applications."

He also was named a 2009 fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in recognition of his contributions to high-performance computing, storage and parallel input/output.

Choudhary's research interests include high-performance computing, data-intensive computing, scalable data mining, computer architecture and high-performance input/output (I/O) systems and software. He also is interested in the application of these areas in many domains, including information processing (for data mining, customer relationship management and business intelligence) and scientific computing (for scientific discoveries). Choudhary's specific interests lie in the design and evaluation of architectures and software systems (from system software such as runtime systems to compilers), high-performance servers, high-performance databases, I/O and software protection and security.

Surmeier was honored for "distinguished contributions to the field of neuroscience, particularly for characterizing the mechanisms mediating neuromodulation of neuronal activity and the causes of Parkinson's disease."

Surmeier's research focuses on the causes of Parkinson's disease and the adaptations that take place in brain function as the disease progresses. His pioneering work on the neuromodulatory actions of dopamine -- the neurotransmitter lost in Parkinson's disease -- has provided fundamental insights into the neural mechanisms underlying motor learning. This work also has shown how neural circuits in the basal ganglia are reshaped by the loss of dopamine and how this might be corrected. Surmeier's group recently identified a rare calcium channel as a risk factor in Parkinson's disease. Because an FDA-approved drug effectively antagonizes this channel, Surmeier's discovery has led to a clinical neuroprotection trial for early stage Parkinson's disease.

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