Skip to main content
Virginia Weis standing in lab

Marine biologist elected 2022 AAAS Fellow

By Hannah Ashton

University Distinguished Professor Virginia Weis has been elected a fellow of the esteemed American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and publisher of the leading journal Science. Fellows are selected annually by the Council of AAAS, its member-run governing body, for their “scientifically or socially distinguished” achievements.

Honored in the category of biological sciences, Weis was commended for her distinguished contributions to the field of coral reef biology. She is the 19th faculty member in the College of Science to be elected as an AAAS Fellow.

"We are honored for Virginia to receive this high honor bestowed by AAAS, one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world," said Vrushali Bokil, interim dean of the College of Science. “This honor affirms the significant advances she has made in coral biology by uncovering the genetic basis of coral symbiosis."

Weis is currently the acting associate dean for research and graduate students and Dr. Russ and Dolores Gorman College of Science faculty scholar in the Department of Integrative Biology. She served as the department head for nine years from 2011 to 2020. Her distinguished career includes the Eminence in Research Award from the International Coral Reef Society, the most prestigious award in the discipline.

For more than two decades, Weis has focused on the symbiotic relationship between corals and the photosynthetic algae living within their cells. Her lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the mutualistic relationship. She is also addressing the challenge of building coral cryorepositories with the hope that once human activity changes to bring the Earth’s temperatures back down, it will be possible to scale the reproduction of corals and try to build reefs up again.

In the past 10 years, Weis has received more than $5.6 million in grants, with additional funds from New Zealand.

Along with Weis, Joseph Spatafora in the College of Agricultural Sciences was also selected as a 2022 AAAS Fellow. Oregon State University now has 157 elected fellows.