The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science — has awarded seven Harvard professors the distinction of AAAS fellow.

In all, 486 members were named this year for efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. The 2008-09 fellows will be honored at Fellows Forum, part of AAAS’s annual meeting in Chicago on Feb. 14. Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold or blue rosette pin (representing science and engineering, respectively). This year’s fellows were announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of Science on Dec. 19.

Fellows were nominated by steering groups of the association’s 24 sections; by any three fellows who are AAAS members; or by the chief executive officer.

Harvard’s AAAS Fellows

The section on astronomy elected Charles Alcock, professor of astronomy and director of the Center for Astrophysics, for pioneering research using microlensing to probe the dark matter halo of the Milky Way galaxy as well as for outstanding leadership of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The section on biological sciences elected four fellows, all from Harvard Medical School: Norbert Perrimon, professor of genetics, for distinguished contributions to the field of developmental biology, particularly for studies of signaling pathways in drosophila; Anjana Rao, professor of pathology, for distinguished contributions to the field of immunology, particularly for advances concerning signaling pathways and transcriptional control; Marion V. Nelson Professor of Cell Biology Joan Ruderman for seminal studies of the molecular mechanisms that regulate progression through the cell division cycle in vertebrate cells; Johannes Walter, associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, for elucidating molecular events underlying eukaryotic replication initiation and identifying mechanisms that limit DNA replication to a single round per cell cycle.

The section on chemistry elected Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry Cynthia M. Friend. Friend was elected for advancement in understanding complex surface chemistry and catalytic processes, for exemplary scientific leadership that has promoted diversity, and for innovative education of young scientists.

The section on information, computing, and communication elected Leslie G. Valiant, T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. Valiant was named fellow for distinguished contributions to theoretical computer science, in particular computational complexity theory and computational learning theory.