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These U of T faculty are now fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

AAAS welcomes leading researchers Cheryl Arrowsmith and Greg Evans

Research from Cheryl Arrowsmith is speeding up the discovery of new medical therapies, while research from Greg Evans is leading efforts to understand the causes and effects of air pollution

Two U of T faculty members are among the latest fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Professor Greg Evans of chemical engineering was recognized for his important contributions to air pollution research and his leadership in engineering education.

Professor Cheryl Arrowsmith of medical biophysics was honoured for enabling the research community to benefit from open-access science, speeding up the discovery of new therapies.

The prestigious honour was announced on Nov. 23.

“This is a great honour,” says Arrowsmith, who serves as chief scientist at the Structural Genomics Consortium.

Arrowsmith studies the proteins that regulate how genes are turned on and off within cells, a field called ‘epigenetics’. While these proteins are essential to normal human health and development, they can go awry in certain diseases, such as cancer. Through the Structural Genomics Consortium, Arrowsmith collaborates with pharmaceutical companies to develop drug-like inhibitors to these “rogue” proteins, to test which proteins might prove to be good targets for future drugs. These inhibitors, called “chemical probes”, are then made available to any researcher who wants to use them, with no strings attached, to enable more discoveries. 

“This way these really useful drug discovery tools can get into the community,” she says. “They can be used to accelerate the discovery and development of new medicines more quickly than if we or the pharmaceutical industry were to try to do it alone without sharing.”

Arrowsmith joined the Faculty of Medicine’s department of Medical Biophysics in 1991. She also serves as professor at the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research and is a senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Structural Genomics and has received numerous awards for her work.

“This is a prestigious and well-deserved honour,” says Faculty of Medicine Dean Trevor Young. “Cheryl has been doing incredible work over the past decade in open-access science with the Structural Genomics Consortium – work that is advancing scientific discovery and development of new treatments.”

Evans joined the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering in 1990, and began his world-leading research on the causes and effects of poor air quality, especially airborne particles in large cities. The work includes the development of new analytical instruments as well as advanced modelling. In 2003 he founded the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR) and in 2008 expanded the project to create the Canadian Aerosol Research Network (CARN). These networks, as well as Evans' own lab group, have produced a number of key publications regarding the creation of aerosol pollution and its impact on human health.

He is also known as a leader within the Faculty. He served as the chair of First Year from 2003–2005 and the vice-dean, Undergraduate from 2005–2007. He also led the creation of the Engineering Communication Program, which helps undergraduate engineers build professional level communications skills.

Evans serves as associate director of the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead). This program, unique in Canada, provides advanced leadership development programming for students across the faculty, integrating both theory and practice. Evans spearheaded the creation and implementation of the Graduate Collaborative Program in Engineering Education, the first engineering education graduate program in Canada. The program, which launched September 2014, allows masters and PhD students to pursue interdisciplinary research at the nexus of education and engineering.

Evans has been recognized with many previous awards and honours. Within U of T he has received the Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award, the Faculty Teaching Award, the Northrop Frye Award and the President’s Teaching Award, U of T’s highest teaching honour. He has also received the Alan Blizzard Award from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Teaching Award and the Engineers Canada Medal for Distinction in Engineering Education.

“On behalf of our entire Faculty, heartfelt congratulations to Professor Greg Evans on this richly-deserved recognition,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “His outstanding research and commitment to excellence in engineering education have been instrumental in advancing U of T Engineering's mission to nurture the next generation of global engineering leaders.”

The AAAS seeks to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people." Arrowsmith and Evans will be formerly inducted as fellows at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington this February.