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Mary Munson, Craig Peterson named American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows

Mary Munson, PhD, and Craig L. Peterson, PhD
Mary Munson, PhD, and Craig L. Peterson, PhD

Mary Munson, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular biotechnology, vice chair of diversity for the department, and assistant vice provost for health equity; and Craig L. Peterson, PhD, professor and vice chair of molecular medicine, have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Munson was elected as a fellow for her “contributions toward commitment to diversity and inclusion in the scientific field."

“It’s a huge recognition for the work I’m able to do at UMass Chan and with the American Society for Cell Biology. This recognition reflects the dedication and support UMass Chan has given to me and its commitment to the area of diversity and inclusion,” Munson said.

Munson joined UMass Chan Medical School in 2001. She leads an NIH-funded lab focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of membrane fusion regulation. In 2023, Munson was recognized with the Outstanding Mentoring to Women Award by the Women’s Faculty Committee of the Diversity and Inclusion Office. She received the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in 2022. Munson is also a fellow of ASCB, was previously co-chair of the Women in Cell Biology committee, co-leads the ASCB’s MOSAIC program, and is the current ASCB president-elect.

Munson is the faculty advisor for the UMass Chan student chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science; a leader of the diversity action committee in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology; and leads the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Faculty Fostering Inclusive Excellence community, focused on engaging and educating faculty to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. She is currently focused on promoting mentorship training at UMass Chan.

“I’m particularly excited for being recognized by AAAS in the diversity and inclusion space. The only way that we create the change that we want to see is to do the work. We should not to expect the small number of underrepresented faculty or our students to do all the work. Each of needs to step up to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in our communities,” Munson said.

“I share the honor with all the people who have worked with me over the years. It’s really all of their hard work that’s led to our discoveries and led to this honor.”

- Craig L. Peterson, PhD

Dr. Peterson was elected as an AAAS fellow for his “contributions to the field of chromatin remodeling from its inception through today, particularly for combining genetic, molecular and biochemical approaches to address the important problems in the field.”

“It’s quite an honor. I share the honor with all the people who have worked with me over the years. It’s really all of their hard work that’s led to our discoveries and led to this honor,” Peterson said.

Peterson joined UMass Chan in 1992. His NIH-funded lab is focused exclusively on studying the role of chromatin in transcriptional regulation. Peterson led the discovery of chromatin remodeling enzymes, which are required for everything that happens in the nucleus and restructure chromatin to provide access to DNA, repair genomes and control gene expression. According to Peterson, the remodeling enzymes are the second-most prevalent tumor suppressor mutations in humans.

Munson and Peterson join 14 UMass Chan faculty members elected as AAAS fellows.

“It’s a prestigious group and one of the advantages we have at UMass Chan is the fantastic colleagues. It’s really the environment being built by UMass Chan and other faculty members that has allowed us to grow that’s made us successful,” Peterson said.

Munson and Peterson are among 500 scientists, engineers and innovators elected this year. New fellows will be recognized this fall in Washington, D.C.

AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.