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Three University of Utah researchers elected to Academy of Sciences

Published April 29, 2014 4:02 pm

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Three University of Utah faculty have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Chemist Cynthia Burrows, biochemist Wesley Sundquist and anthropologist Polly Wiessner are among 105 scientists elected this year to the prestigious scientific organization.

The trio brings to 21 the total number of honorees from the U., according to a news release.

Polly Wiessner • For decades Wiessner has studied the Kalahari bushmen of Botswana and Namibia and the Enga tribes of Papua New Guinea, providing anthropologists "with some of their best models for the cultural evolution of prehistoric societies," according to the journal, Science.

She embraces "engaged anthropology," and arranged funding for food and water supply projects benefitting the Kalahari bushmen and other projects for the Enga.

Wesley Sundquist • Co-chair of the U.'s biochemistry department since 2009, Sundquist won a $19 million federal grant in 2007 to study the molecular biology of the AIDS-causing virus. He and a team of 11 scientists have focused on how HIV hijacks "host" cells, forms new virus particles and spreads to other cells.

Cindy Burrows • Newly-named chairwoman of the U.'s chemistry department, Burrows studies the biochemistry of DNA, zeroing in on the causes of mutations leading to diseases such as cancer.

Established in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences recognizes achievement in science and advises the federal government and other organizations on science, engineering and health policy.