Dr. Robert S. Aronstam, director and senior scientist at the Guthrie Research Institute in Sayre, Pa., has been named chair of the University of Missouri-Rolla biological sciences department. Aronstam’s appointment began July 1.
Aronstam replaces Dr. Ronald L. Frank, associate professor of biological sciences at UMR, who had served as interim chair since July 2002 when former chair Dr. Paula Lutz, was named dean of the UMR College of Arts and Sciences.
"We are delighted to have Bob Aronstam join our faculty," says Lutz. "His background and talents are ideally suited to meet the campus goal of expanding graduate and undergraduate education in biological sciences and integrating biology more fully into our other strong engineering and science disciplines," says Lutz.
In addition to his position at the Guthrie Institute, Aronstam served as research professor at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. Prior to his years in Pennsylvania, Aronstam was a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Ga.
Aronstam’s area of expertise is in molecular neuroscience, specifically signal transduction mediated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. "Basically, I study how brain cells respond to each other and to their environment, and how these responses change in disease," Aronstam says.
Aronstam has published 130 research articles, 175 abstracts and 14 book chapters, and has submitted nearly 300 full-length cDNA sequences of human signaling proteins to GenBank. He has received grants, contracts and fellowships totaling more than $6 million from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense and the American Heart Association, in addition to other foundations and agencies.
Aronstam earned a bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University in New York in 1972. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Rochester Center for Brain Research in 1978. Aronstam also received post-doctoral training from the University of Maryland department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.
"This is an exciting time in biology and UMR has a young, creative and productive faculty in biological sciences," Aronstam says. "They are constantly incorporating new approaches into their studies, which allows them to ask questions of fundamental importance. The intellectual environment is stimulating and Rolla is a marvelous place for both researchers and students. I am thrilled to be a part of this group."