The University Record, October 2, 2000

Distinguished Research Scientist Award

M. Sanford Sillman, James S. Ashton-Miller, Christiane Anderson, and Audrey F. Seasholtz

James A. Ashton-Miller

One of the leading biomechanics researchers in the world, James A. Ashton-Miller brings his ingenuity and engineering expertise to a range of clinical problems. As part of his research on the prevention of injuries and disabilities, Dr. Ashton-Miller has made exceptional contributions to our understanding of human spinal disorders, mobility problems of older adults, women’s health issues and orthopedic sports medicine.

Dr. Ashton-Miller, a member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics since 1983, directs the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading research laboratories studying balance, falls and fall-related injuries. In a landmark experiment, he helped identify the biomechanical factors that limit the ability of an older person to halt a fall. Dr. Ashton-Miller has shown that although age affects neural reaction time, that change is minor compared to delays caused by age-related slowing in muscle contractility and changes in muscle strength.

He also has pioneered novel statistical methods to study the body’s ability to detect changes in joint angle, and used them to quantify how much advancing age reduces the threshold for detecting joint motion. As part of their research on the biomechanics of sciatica, Dr. Ashton-Miller and a colleague rediscovered and recognized the functional significance of the Hofmann ligaments, first described by Hofmann in 1898 and forgotten for a century. Prior to their rediscovery, the ligaments were being labeled by surgeons as “adhesions.”

Dr. Ashton-Miller is a member of the world’s leading research team on the biomechanics of female pelvic floor function, and an inventor of devices to measure pelvic floor muscle strength and methods to quantify and treat stress incontinence. Working closely with colleagues in gynecology, his students have developed the world’s first three-dimensional computer model of the pelvic floor in order to study the causes of birth-related injuries. His collaborative efforts in this area have resulted in four international prizes.

Dr. Ashton-Miller, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, has authored 85 papers in respected journals and 10 book chapters, and has served as a consultant to the National Research Council, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Swedish Strategic Research Foundation. He also is a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and more than 15 journals.

Dr. Ashton-Miller has served the University as an academic adviser and as a member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering executive and graduate education committees, and represented the College of Engineering on the Medical School’s Biomedical Research Council. Winner of the University’s Research Scientist Award and the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Research Scientist Award, he actively supports the University Mentorship Program and Society for Women Engineers.

In recognition of his dedication to science and to the prevention of injuries and disabilities, his numerous collaborations resulting in clinical innovations, and his outstanding service to the University, the University of Michigan proudly recognizes James A. Ashton-Miller with its Distinguished Research Scientist Award.

Research Scientist Achievement Award

Sanford Sillman

Sanford Sillman, a leading theoretical scientist in atmospheric chemistry, is at the forefront of ozone pollution studies worldwide. He has developed and used computer models to represent the formation, chemistry, and transport of ozone and other air pollutants, and was one of the first to identify sources of ozone in rural locations in the eastern United States.

Best known for developing a series of indicators for ozone chemistry that can be used to test model predictions for the effectiveness of pollution control strategies, Dr. Sillman’s papers on “indicator species” are landmark studies. Several measurement-based research programs have been developed using the indicator concept, including programs in Nashville, Tennessee, and Houston, Texas, as well as in Switzerland and northern Italy.

Dr. Sillman, who joined the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science (AOSS) in 1988, has a talent for touching the lives and enriching the research experience of the graduate students he advises and bringing interesting and exciting issues to science outreach experiences for school children and the general public. He has appeared regularly as a guest lecturer in AOSS and School of Public Health classes, and has participated in various interdisciplinary programs, including the Population and Environment Seminar series. He helps graduate students clearly define important research questions, use existing and new methods to answer these questions, and present their results to the broader community. He also developed a component of BlueSkies College Edition, an instructional computer presentation of meteorological information associated with a college textbook.

Dr. Sillman, who has a passion for environmental issues, contributed to the Southern Oxidant Study to improve understanding of the accumulation and effects of photochemical oxidants. He also has participated in the North American Research Strategy on Tropospheric Ozone Analysis and Assessment Team’s evaluation of air quality in the United States.

Dr. Sillman has been recognized with his department’s Award for Excellence in Research and the Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Referring from the Journal for Geophysics Research.

In recognition of his path-breaking theoretical contributions to our understanding of air pollution; his skills as an educator of students, policy-makers and the public; and his dedication to improving air quality and the environment, the University of Michigan is pleased to present to Sanford Sillman its Research Scientist Achievement Award.

Research Scientist Achievement Award

Christiane Anderson

Botanist Christiane Anderson is an outstanding plant systematist who enjoys a worldwide reputation for her contributions to the classification and understanding of flowering plants. Her distinguished career as a monographer, floristician and editor has brought widespread acclaim to the University of Michigan as a plant systematics research center.

In her monumental 300-page study of the large and taxonomically difficult neotropical genus Stigmaphyllon in the flowering-plant family Malpighiaceae, Dr. Anderson documented 90 species, including 28 new species that she described and named. Her monograph, lavishly illustrated with maps and line drawings, treats in detail the morphology and distribution of every species in the genus and provides identification keys. She has done other important monographic studies on Thryallis and Pterandra, including a phylogenetic analysis of the genus Pterandra, one of the few such analyses in the Malpighiaceae. Dr. Anderson also is making important contributions as a collaborator on a survey of the higher plants of Mount Kinabalu on Borneo, home to one of the world’s richest floras. The survey promises to open new avenues of biological research, which has been severely hampered because only specialists could identify the plants.

Since Dr. Anderson assumed editorial leadership of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists’ Systematic Botany Monographs in 1982, it has become the premier journal in the world for such works. Botanists from around the world send their books to Systematic Botany Monographs because of Dr. Anderson’s careful review, skillful editing, high production standards and wide distribution to libraries throughout the world. Publications in Systematic Botany Monographs have won prestigious awards from the New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Société de Physique et d’Histoire Naturelle in concert with the Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques of Geneva. In 1991, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists established its Distinguished Service Award, specifically to recognize Dr. Anderson’s remarkable service. She also is a past president of the society.

Dr. Anderson, who joined the Herbarium in 1975, also edits Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium and is in charge of the Herbarium Library, one of the outstanding botanical libraries in the country.

In recognition of her outstanding scientific achievements in documenting biodiversity, especially in the world of flowering plants, and her high quality publications and exceptional service to the University and to the national and international systematics community, the University of Michigan is pleased to present to Christiane Anderson its Research Scientist Achievement Award.

Research Scientist Recognition Award

Audrey F. Seasholtz

Molecular neurobiologist Audrey F. Seasholtz is one of the most innovative scientists researching the function and regulation of the mammalian response to stress. Using molecular biological, genetic and biochemical tools for her pioneering work on the role of corticotropin-releasing hormone in neuroendocrine responses, she has demonstrated the importance of this peptide in the regulation of adrenal steroid hormone production when mammals are subjected to stress. Her research, which has captured the attention of neuroscientists because of its relevance to a number of physical and mental disorders, is well documented in more than 30 publications in top journals and a dozen book chapters.

Dr. Seasholtz, who has held joint appointments in the Mental Health Research Institute and the Department of Biological Chemistry since 1988, is an excellent role model. She guides and nurtures students and scientists in training by conveying the excitement of scientific research and the pursuit of knowledge. One of the finest teachers in her department, Dr. Seasholtz receives extremely favorable evaluations from students, who appreciate her engaging and informative lecture style. She works closely with her students, as evidenced by their mastery of research techniques as well as experimental design. Many of her students have gone on to postdoctoral positions in prestigious laboratories across the country and internationally.

In addition to membership in the Genetics Training Program, Neuroscience Program, Medical Scientist Training Program, Reproductive Sciences Training Program and the Medical School, Dr. Seasholtz serves ably and unselfishly on a number of demanding committees within the many departments and programs of which she is a member. She also contributes to the well-being of the University as a member of the Biomedical Research Council, the Biological Chemistry Internal Review Committee and the Mental Health Research Institute Executive Committee. She serves on the editorial board of Endocrinology and is a reviewer for many professional journals. She also is a councilor for the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.

The esteem in which she is held by colleagues is reflected in her memberships in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Society for Neuroscience and the Endocrine Society. Among the many honors Dr. Seasholtz has received are the University’s Career Development Award, the Mental Health Research Institute Distinguished Achievement Award, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Independent Investigator’s Award.

In recognition of her contributions to our understanding of the function and regulation of the mammalian response to stress, her inspiring teaching and mentoring, and her service to her department and numerous interdisciplinary programs, the University of Michigan is pleased to confer upon Audrey F. Seasholtz its Research Scientist Recognition Award.