NEWS: Donis-Keller Elected to 2023 Class of AAAS Fellows

April 18, 2024

Helen Donis-Keller is one of 502 distinguished scientists, engineers and innovators who join the ranks of Fellows, a distinguished lifetime honor within the scientific community.

Helen Donis-Keller, Olin College Michael E. Moody Professor and Professor of Biology and Art, has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Donis-Keller is honored for outstanding contributions to active learning methods and to the development of the first genetic linkage map of the human genome.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from AAAS for two contributions from my professional life in science,” said Donis-Keller. “The development of the first genetic linkage map of the human genome would not have been possible without the tremendous efforts of my research team. Being also recognized for active learning methods is especially meaningful. There is nothing more rewarding than providing an environment conducive to learning in science and art.”

Portrait of Professor Helen Donis-Keller

Portrait of Helen Donis-Keller, Olin College Michael E. Moody Professor and Professor of Biology and Art

“Helen is one of the College’s longest tenured faculty members and is known for her deep commitment and contributions to her dual academic passions of art and biology,” said Olin President Gilda A. Barabino. “I am so pleased that the AAAS has recognized her many contributions to engineering education and scientific discovery with her election as a Fellow.

Prior to joining the Olin faculty in 2001, Donis-Keller held leadership positions in the biotechnology industry and in academic science. She was director of the human genetics department at Collaborative Research, Inc. where she led the research group that developed the first genetic linkage map of the human genome. Later she was professor of surgery and director of the division of human molecular genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Her research group identified a gene and mutations that cause several forms of thyroid cancer. Her group also developed predictive diagnostic tests that served as preventative measures in the development of thyroid cancer. At Olin, Donis-Keller teaches courses in biology and in art that encourage active learning using a project-based approach.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows, AAAS is proud to recognize the newly elected individuals. This year’s class embodies scientific excellence, fosters trust in science throughout the communities they serve, and leads the next generation of scientists while advancing scientific achievements,” said Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

This year’s Fellows are at the forefront of discussions about emerging technologies, semiconductor production, environmental issues, science education, innovative therapies, and more as the world grapples with societal concerns around these topics.

The 2023 AAAS Fellows class will be celebrated in Washington, D.C. in the fall. That evening, AAAS will also celebrate the program’s 150th anniversary at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The new Fellows will receive a certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin (representing science and engineering, respectively) to commemorate their election and will be featured in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science in April 2024.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more.

Founded in 1997, Olin instills passion and ignites innovation in its students and prepares them to envision, create and deliver products, services, and systems that transform and improve people’s lives around the world. Olin teaches students to be explorers and creators who design their own path forward. By challenging norms and sharing its unique approach to education, Olin is revolutionizing the way engineers, and all undergraduates, learn and create knowledge. Located in Needham Massachusetts, Olin is ranked among the top-three undergraduate engineering programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.