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Prestigious Science Organization Elects ODU's Cynthia Jones as Fellow

Cynthia Jones

Cynthia Jones, eminent scholar and professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences at Old Dominion University, has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

This honor, which is bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, comes "for distinguished contributions in marine fisheries ecology, especially development of analytical tools to evaluate stock structure, population dynamics and life-history strategies."

Jones' research has produced novel methods to determine the geographical origin and age of fish, contributing to efforts to sustain fish populations. She is the director of ODU's Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology (CQFE).

Her election to AAAS Fellow is only the latest of her many achievements and honors. She received the Virginia Outstanding Scientist Award in 2003, the Virginia Professor of the Year award in 2004 from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award in 2005 from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.

This year, 531 members of AAAS have been elected Fellows because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and rosette pin on Feb. 20 at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"This is an exceptional and very much deserving distinction," said Chris Platsoucas, dean of the ODU College of Sciences. "It reflects very favorably on Professor Jones' center, department, the college and the university."

Jones said, "It is an honor to be elected as a Fellow to AAAS, the second at ODU. Fisheries scientists are not usually considered for Fellows because of our emphasis on applied science and it is pleasing that our work here at CQFE is recognized for both its applied and innovative research."

A member of the Old Dominion faculty since 1986, Jones has established an international reputation for her pioneering work in fisheries ecology. In the 1980s she developed new techniques to determine the daily age of fish by studying their ear bones, or otoliths, which have daily and annual rings similar to those of trees. Based on this research, scientists can now determine the date of birth in young fish as well as track their growth and survival during their most vulnerable life stages.

In the 1990s Jones developed a chemical analysis technique that can determine where a particular fish was hatched and what waters it has inhabited since. Using this information, scientists can tell what environmental changes a species can tolerate, identify essential habitats and determine the advantages and disadvantages of a specific habitat.

More recently, she has focused on nursery habitats, investigating the effects of carbon and nitrogen sources on juvenile fish growth and how seagrass beds support healthy fish growth.

In addition to directing CQFE, Jones served as a member of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission from 2002-2006. She was the first fisheries scientist to be appointed to the commission in its 125-year history.

The other AAAS Fellow among the ODU faculty is Larry Atkinson, eminent professor and the Samuel M. and Fay L. Slover Professor of Oceanography. Altogether, ODU faculty members have been elected to 75 such Fellow positions in societies, academies, institutes and other organizations in the United States and other countries.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association's 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members, so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution, or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

AAAS was founded in 1848 and is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal "Science" (www.sciencemag.org).

This article was posted on: December 17, 2009

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