Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Jeffery Davis & Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics’ Anne Simon received the honor
On September 12, 2018, University of Maryland Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Jeffery Davis and Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics Professor Anne Simon were named Distinguished Scholar-Teachers during the university’s annual Convocation ceremony.
The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Program, established in 1978, honors a small number of faculty members each year who have demonstrated notable success in both scholarship and teaching. Distinguished Scholar-Teachers receive an honorarium of $5,000 to support their professional activities and make a public presentation on a topic within their scholarly discipline.
Simon will give her talk, “Twenty-five Years of National Science Foundation Broader Impacts: Inspiring a Generation of Women Scientists by Infusing Science into ‘The X-Files,’” on October 30, 2018. Davis will give his talk, “Sticking and Stacking: Building Molecular Cages, Channels and Gels,” on November 27, 2018.
Davis has dedicated his research career to understanding how molecules interact and form sophisticated structures and how those structures can be rationally manipulated to take on new and useful properties. He is a leading expert on guanosine quartets (G-quartets) and synthetic ion channels. His work on G-quartets, which involves coaxing molecular fragments to assemble and surround positively charged ions, has shown promising applications—from encapsulating radioactive ions in nuclear waste to attacking cancer cells.
“It’s been my pleasure to watch Jeff develop into one of the most creative and thorough U.S. chemists in the area of supramolecular chemistry,” said Jonathan Sessler, Doherty-Elch Chair in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin.
Davis earned a B.A. in chemistry from Colby College in 1981 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from MIT in 1987. Prior to coming to UMD, he was a group leader of bio-organic chemistry at Genzyme in Boston and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Davis has published nearly 100 articles and holds six U.S. patents. His 2003 review on G-quartets has been cited over 1,400 times. During his tenure at UMD, Davis has received over $6 million in grants to conduct research funded by the NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Cancer Society and the Department of Energy.
Known for his affability and contagious enthusiasm as a teacher, Davis has inspired a legion of students in the classroom and mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students in his research group, encouraging them to pursue careers in science and education. He has an outstanding record of service, lending his time and expertise to review articles, grant applications and promotion packages; mentor colleagues; organize international conferences; and shape the pedagogy and culture of UMD.
“Jeffery Davis makes us a better university,” Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Janice Reutt-Robey and Professor Bryan Eichhorn wrote in their letter of nomination. “He raises the bar on scholarship and teaching and provides a wonderful role model for both students and faculty.”
Simon is a favorite professor in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and generously shares her time, knowledge and lab with scores of promising young scientists. As an educator, Simon seeks to build a foundation that stretches beyond the essentials of biology by encouraging curiosity, independence, critical thinking and trust in their opinions. She also received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) from the NIH to establish and direct a virology training program.
“What makes Dr. Simon unique is her desire to assist students in their discovery of how they learn best,” said Rachel Gagliardi (B.S. ’18, combined program in veterinary science). “Dr. Simon is an incredible teacher, scholar and mentor who challenges her students and inspires others.”
Simon received a B.A. in biology from the University of California, San Diego, and a Ph.D. in genetics from Indiana University. She was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2014.
Simon’s tireless efforts to examine and question long-accepted understandings of virus evolution, recombination and translation have made her a respected and renowned researcher. Her research on such plant viruses as Turnip crinkle virus has shown that minor modifications to RNA structure can have profound effects on infection, replication and presentation of symptoms, a discovery that has broad implications for some of the deadliest viruses affecting human health.
Simon’s work has attracted the attention and financial support of leading institutions, including the NIH and NSF, and her expertise was tapped by Chris Carter, creator of the cult favorite television series “The X-Files.” Simon served as science adviser for the series and received story writing credit for the popular episode, “My Struggle II,” which aired in 2016 and allowed her to share her knowledge and passion for virology with millions of fans.
“Anne tries to develop strong, engaging curriculum and to make science fun,” said Jeanmarie Verchot, director of Texas A&M’s AGRILIFE Research Extension. “Her spirit is captivating for any audience and I know she has made a significant impact on young minds.”
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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college’s 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $175 million.