2023 AAAS Lifetime Fellows Elected


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, annually bestows the honor of Lifetime Fellow for extraordinary achievements leading to advancement in science. This award is one of the most distinguished honors within the scientific community.

This year, two scholars from the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research were awarded this prestigious title.

Ping Ma is a Distinguished Research Professor in Statistics and an adjunct professor of computer science at UGA. He has authored or co-authored more than 80 research articles and was recognized with the National Science Foundation Distinguished Lecture in 2021. His work lies in development of statistical theory and methods to solve scientific and engineering problems with broad societal impacts. He was recognized in the statistics category by AAAS.

“I was deeply honored to be elected to AAAS Fellow,” said Ma. “I have been fortunate to work with many colleagues at Owen Institute on many important behavioral research projects, which have been a very rewarding experience.”

He is currently working on statistical and data science, which play a significant role in modern society. They are used extensively in various fields, including healthcare, business, finance, social sciences, and many others. Statistical and data science help us to understand and interpret data, make informed decisions, and solve real-world problems. Statistical and data science provide valuable insights into human behavior and social trends, which the researchers at Owen Institute have been focused on.

Ronald Simons is a Regents’ Professor in Sociology, a Fellow in the Center for Family Research, and co-director of the Center on the Biological Embedding of Social Events and Relationships at OIBR. He has received numerous awards for his research including best article awards from three different professional organizations and the UGA SEC Academic Achievement Award. The National Institutes of Health have provided nearly $50 million dollars of support for his longitudinal studies since 1990, and his research has resulted in over 300 peer-reviewed articles.

Simons stated that, “It is a great honor to be inducted as a fellow into the AAAS and I am humbled to be included in this group of accomplished scientists.”

Much of his scholarship has involved investigations of the mechanisms whereby social-environmental conditions and health risk behaviors become biologically embedded via gene expression and trigger onset of various chronic illnesses. An important component of this work has been the utilization of blood-based epigenetic markers to calculate, in years and months, the extent to which an individual is experiencing accelerated or decelerated biological aging.

These new Fellows will be celebrated for their scientific and socially notable achievements spanning their careers in Washington, D.C., in summer 2023.

Written by: Andrea Horsman