COSAM News Articles 2017 December Hill and Ortiz named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences

Hill and Ortiz named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences

Published: 12/15/2017

By: Hannah Williams

The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, or AAAS, announced that both Geoffrey Hill, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and J. V. Ortiz, professor in the Department of Chemistry, have been named Fellows of AAAS. The AAAS was founded in 1848 and aims to advance science and serve society through various initiatives. The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874, and those named a Fellow are continuous members of AAAS for four years prior to their nomination. This year 396 members were awarded the distinction of Fellow because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Hill was named a Fellow of AAAS for distinguished contributions in the field of behavioral and evolutionary ecology, particularly for advancing understanding of the evolution of ornamental traits. Hill’s research focuses on the function and evolution of ornamental traits in birds and on the co-evolution of hosts and pathogens. His research has garnered $8.8 million in external grant support, including grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.Additionally, he was appointed director of the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems at the National Science Foundation, which is the largest of the four divisions within the Biological Sciences Directorate at NSF.

He has published five books with major publishers, including “Ivorybill Hunters: The Search for Proof in a Flooded Wilderness,” published by Oxford University Press.In addition to his books, Hill has been cited in more than 10,000 scientific papers and has published 218 papers in scientific journals.

As the curator of birds for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, Hill has established one of the largest loose-feather collections in the world.

Hill holds a bachelor of science from Indiana University, a master’s from the University of New Mexico, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He has been an Auburn University faculty member since 1993. The AAAS Fellowship adds another outstanding and remarkable achievement to his collection of numerous awards and honors already received.

“For me, being named an AAAS fellow is a special honor because it is recognition by a world community of scientists working in all disciplines,” said Hill

Ortiz was named a Fellow of AAAS for developing propagator methods for calculating electron binding energies, and for interpreting these results with Dyson orbitals, especially for molecular anions with novel electronic structure. Ortiz’s research emphasizes the development of ab initio propagator theories which combine the rigor of many-body formalisms with chemically perspicuous orbital concepts. He supervises a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow research group that specializes in quantum chemistry. He became the first Ruth W. Molette Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University in August, 2006 and simultaneously began serving as chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Ortiz has obtained many honors including, but not limited to, the Erwin W. Segebrecht Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award and the Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award. Additionally, Ortiz has published more than 230 papers in scientific journals, has delivered over 210 invited lectures, and is among the authors of the widely used Gaussian quantum chemistry packages.

Ortiz holds a bachelor of science with honors and a doctorate from the University of Florida. He has been an Auburn faculty member since 2004.

“It is an honor to be elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an organization that has contributed to the greatness of our country and the welfare of the human race since its inception in 1848,” said Ortiz. “I am grateful to the people, institutions and society that have enabled me to make discoveries, share knowledge and encourage others in an ennobling, universal cause. Family, teachers, students, collaborators, colleagues and, most of all, my loving wife of 38 years, have been indispensable supporters. Thanks also are due to Auburn University, my previous employers, the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. I am also grateful to my fellow citizens for their commitment to objective inquiry and educational opportunity. With this steadfast assistance, I hope to inspire young people to take up this cause, infuse their lives with meaning, and enjoy being part of an adventure whose destiny can hardly be imagined”.

For more information, go to the AAAS website at
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