Biologist Manuel Ares receives Outstanding Faculty Award

manny ares
Manuel Ares (Photo by C. Lagattuta)

Manuel Ares, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz, has received the 2012-13 Outstanding Faculty Award from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences. The annual award is the division's highest honor for faculty achievement, recognizing combined excellence in research, teaching, and service.

"In Professor Ares' career as a scientist and academic, he has conducted groundbreaking research, provided outstanding teaching on all levels, and contributed exemplary service to his research community and our campus. He is truly an important asset to UCSC and to the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences," wrote Paul Koch, dean of physical and biological sciences, in a letter announcing the award.

Ares is an internationally recognized leader in the field of messenger RNA splicing and its regulation. His contributions to this field date back to the early 1980s and have been steady and prolific, Koch said. Ares has been awarded 28 years of consecutive funding from the National Institutes of Health, along with grants from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Foundation for AIDS research, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee.

Ares is also an outstanding teacher. A 2004 winner of the UCSC Teaching Excellence Award, he was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professorship from 2002 to 2004 based on his proposal "Integrating Biology and Computer Science Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum." Ares has worked tirelessly to change the undergraduate curriculum at the national and the campus level. His initiatives to offer students an authentic lab experience early in their undergraduate academic careers have been groundbreaking and very successful. His experimental phage class became a permanent part of the MCD Biology undergraduate curriculum, with students moving on to prestigious graduate programs and positions in the biotech industry.

Ares was the first chair of the newly formed Department of MCD Biology, from 2000 to 2002. Creating a new department is challenging on its own, but the real hardship came as he led the department back to full productivity following the devastating Sinsheimer fire. This was no small accomplishment. Ares' national scientific leadership has been recognized by his peers. From 2008 to 2010, he was an elected member of the executive committee of the RNA Society, and in 2010 he was elected president. This position carries important responsibilities, including advisory oversight of the annual international RNA Society Meeting and the highly regarded journal, RNA.

Ares earned his B.S. degree at Cornell University and Ph.D. at UC San Diego. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1987.