University of Oregon biologist Eric U. Selker is the 2013 Outstanding Scientist of the Oregon Academy of Science. He accepted the award during the academy's 72nd annual meeting March 2 at Willamette University in Salem.
The Oregon Academy of Science is a non-profit affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It was founded in 1943.
Selker, who in 2012 was elected into the National Academy of Sciences, is the first Oregon scientist to win the state award since 2009.
"Your record of excellence and dedication receives high praise from your colleagues and deserves recognition," wrote Barbara Stebbins-Boaz, academy president, in notifying Selker of his selection. "Your work exemplifies the best in fulfilling the main objective of the Oregon Academy of Science, which is to promote scientific research and science education in the state of Oregon."
The academy noted that Selker's name has appeared on 130 peer-reviewed research articles, many of which are often cited by other scientists, and recognized his long-running excellence as a teacher.
Selker, who was a Phi Beta Kappa alumnus of Reed College in Oregon, joined the UO faculty in 1985. He studies how eukaryotic genomes function. His current research focuses on gene silencing and concentrates on mechanisms involving DNA methylation and special states of chromatin. Methylation is essential for normal growth and development in plants and animals; abnormal methylation is associated with diseases such as cancer. The research in his UO lab — supported by the National Institutes of Health — primarily uses the easy-to-manipulate fungus Neurospora crassa.
Selker also was elected in 2011 as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies and a leading center for independent policy research.
Membership in the Oregon Academy of Science, through annual dues, helps to support a statewide network of scientific colleagues in research and applied fields and in university and K-12 education.