Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal sitting down beside a microscope doing lab workDr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, Professor and Chair of the Biology Department at MSVU, was today announced as a new Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the most distinct honours in the scientific community.

Dr. Franz-Odendaal is a leading researcher in the areas of evolution and development of the ocular skeleton, as well as equity and inclusion practices within Science fields.

The AAAS notes that Dr. Franz-Odendaal has received this honour “for her distinguished contributions to the field of developmental biology of the vertebrate skeleton, and for pioneering involvement in issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Dr. Franz-Odendaal leads the Bone Development Lab at MSVU and recently finished an 11-year term as the NSERC Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering. She is internationally recognized for her work in both developmental biology, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion in research. Her work has inspired countless girls and women to explore or further careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

One of her current studies (that has recently received approximately $500,000 in new research grants, including funding from the Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Foundation of Innovation, Research Nova Scotia) is examining the impact of space travel on the skeleton. This groundbreaking research holds significance not only for space exploration, but also for understanding various human disorders where lower amounts of bone are formed.

Notes the AAAS, “The 2023 Fellows class of 502 includes scientists, engineers, and innovators spanning all 24 of AAAS disciplinary Sections who are being recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements.” Dr. Franz-Odendaal was recognized in the Biological Sciences category.

Dr. Franz-Odendaal is notably the only honouree in this year’s class of AAAS Fellows at an Atlantic Canada university and one of a small number from Nova Scotia in the history of the recognition.
Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. Electing AAAS Honorary Fellows is a tradition dating back to 1874 and honorees include such notable scientists as W.E.B DuBois, Maria Mitchell, Steven Chu, Ellen Ochoa, and Irwin M. Jacobs, two recipients of the 2021 Nobel Prize – Ardem Patapoutian (Medicine) and Syukuro Manabe (Physics) – and one of the previous year’s Laureates, Jennifer Doudna (Chemistry).

Congratulations, Dr. Franz-Odendaal!