OSU Biologist Granted Fellowship in AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded the distinction of AAAS fellow to integrative biology professor Bob Mason of Oregon State University.  

Mason is one of 443 new honorees, elected each year by their peers on the Council of AAAS, the organization’s member-run governing body.  

The 2019 group will be recognized Feb. 15, 2020, during the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle.  

Mason was elected in the biological sciences section, one of 24 sections the AAAS uses for nomination and selection purposes. Association members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective section, by three fellows, or by the association’s chief executive officer.  

In the OSU College of Science, Mason holds the endowed positions of Sandy and Elva Sanders Eminent Professor and J.C. Braly Curator of Vertebrates.  

Focusing on the red-sided garter snake, Mason’s research examines the interrelationships among natural products chemistry, behavioral biology, reproductive endocrinology and ecology. A reproductive biologist by training, he was the first scientist to isolate, identify and chemically synthesize a pheromone from a reptile, and his discovery opened the doors to new fields of inquiry around reproduction in snakes.  

“Reptiles are excellent vertebrate models for chemical ecology research because they rely more on their chemical senses than any other vertebrate class,” said Mason, who regularly delivers a public presentation titled “The Garden of Eden revisited: What can we learn from snakes, sex and scents.”  

Mason’s work has been widely featured in the media, including in a National Geographic video. His work also inspired the award-winning children’s book, “The Snake Scientist,” by Sy Montgomery.  

AAAS fellows are chosen “in honor of their invaluable contributions to science and technology,” according to the association. Pioneering research, leadership within a given field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations and advancing public understanding of science are among the criteria for election.  

The tradition of electing AAAS fellows began in 1874. Since then, the recognition has gone to thousands of distinguished scientists, including astronomer Maria Mitchell, elected in 1875; inventor Thomas Edison (1878); anthropologist Margaret Mead (1934); computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963); and popular science author Jared Diamond (2000).  

The full list of 2019 fellows appears in the Nov. 29 issue of Science.  

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and publishes Science and multiple other journals.