ATLANTA — Geert de Vries, Regents’ Professor in Georgia State University’s Department of Biology and Neuroscience Institute, has been named an AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
De Vries received the honor for his “transformative contributions to the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology and the origins and functions of sex differences in brain and behavior,” AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh said in a prepared statement.
“AAAS is proud to elevate these standout individuals and recognize the many ways in which they’ve advanced scientific excellence, tackled complex societal challenges and pushed boundaries that will reap benefits for years to come.”
Since its conception in 1874, the lifetime distinction of AAAS Fellow has remained one of the most prestigious honors in the scientific community. Members of the AAAS Council elect scientists for the rank of fellow for their distinguished achievements in research and contributions to their field of study. De Vries is one of 506 scientists, and the only one from Georgia State, elected to the rank this year.
“We are pleased and excited that this honor has been bestowed on this outstanding member of our research community,” said Tim Denning, vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State University. “He truly embodies the innovative thinking and real-world impact that we strive for here at Georgia State.”
Sara Rosen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said de Vries is “not only at the forefront of his field internationally, but he is also a valued leader at Georgia State University.”
De Vries currently serves as chair of the Department of Biology and has served previously as director of the Neuroscience Institute and associate vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State.
“He has been a strong leader in our larger and more complex units of the university, working to empower other researchers and instructors at the university to also do their best work,” Rosen said.
According to de Vries, his research career began with a chance discovery that led him to question the current understanding of sex differences in how the body functions.
“When you’d ask most people why we have sex differences in the brain, they’d say they make males and females behave differently,” de Vries said. “But I’ve come to almost the opposite conclusion.”
De Vries has found that differences often compensate for sex differences in other parts of the body. In this way, they ensure that in most cases males and females still behave and function rather similarly.
“Almost any physiological system does not differ that much in function,” he said. “If you’re an organ in the body and you have to get rid of substances you don’t need, you get the job done. But the way in which you do that is not necessarily the same.”
De Vries came to Georgia State in 2012, where he says his community of research collaborators enriched his research career.
Despite his own impressive career and achievements, he was quick to mention the work of others when asked about his reaction to becoming an AAAS Fellow.
“When I found out, I was just grateful and felt fortunate,” de Vries said. “This is something that should happen to many more people. I think I’m lucky.”
De Vries joins thousands of previously named AAAS Fellows, including sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, anthropologist Margaret Mead and astronaut Ellen Ochoa.
— By Stella Mayerhoff