GVSU professor honored by science association

Karina Lloyd

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Grand Valley State University Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Edward Aboufadel was recently named a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a result of his dedication and hard work toward the advancement of science and its applications. 

Aboufadel was dumbfounded by the phone call he received announcing his achievement, as he did not know he had been nominated for the position or who nominated him. 

“It was a pleasant shock,” Aboufadel said. “It was something I kind of hoped for. … It’s not something you can expect. When I got the phone call, I thought (it) may have been a joke at first, but I was very pleased to get the news.”

At the yearly AAAS meeting on Feb. 17, 2018, Aboufadel will be recognized for his achievements. He suspects he will find out who nominated him for the recognition during the meeting. 

Aboufadel has served as a member of the AAAS since 1987, when he worked as secretary of the mathematics section of the organization. He served as secretary for two terms lasting eight years before returning to regular member status. 

This recognition comes after spending two years serving as a task-force chair for a new AAAS program. Aboufadel began the job after receiving the call from AAAS CEO Rush Holt asking him to chair a new task force within the fellows program. Following the call, Aboufadel began working on evaluating diversity, prestige and revocation policy within the AAAS fellows program. 

Throughout his two years leading the group, the members have put together several proposals that have since been approved by the board. 

“The leadership of the AAAS was very pleased with the work that has come out of the fellows committee the past few years,” Aboufadel said. “I think we went way beyond their expectations as far as what they hoped would happen with the work of the committee. I think that is what ultimately motivated whoever to nominate me.”

The board is currently working on structuring a revocation policy for AAAS members. Though the policy will not be in place this coming year, the work Aboufadel is doing is necessary to the integrity of the organization. 

Lehigh University professor Sharon Friedman, who currently works with Aboufadel on the fellows committee, is pleased with his achievement. 

“I’m delighted that he has been elected a fellow,” Friedman said. “He certainly deserves it. … He has done a wonderful job in chairing (the fellows committee) and leading us through a bunch of interesting and tricky questions that had to be dealt with, and we’re still working at it this year, but he got a lot of it done and passed. He definitely deserves being elected a fellow.”

Though the fellowship is a result of his dedication to AAAS, Aboufadel has also committed many years to his love of applied mathematics. 

While he worked to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from Rutgers University, Aboufadel began his work with the AAAS and also sparked an interest in wavelets, which would become one of his main focuses during his 20-plus years of applied mathematical studies at GVSU.

Much of Aboufadel’s work surrounds using mathematically based 3-D printing designs and wavelets to solve real-world problems. One of his favorite projects was in 2011 when he and a group of undergraduate students used wavelets to detect potholes in the road. The mathematics they used were later applied to an app called “Street Bump.”