CORVALLIS - James Carrington, a professor of botany and plant pathology and director of the Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology at Oregon State University, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The honor, made this year to 308 of the nation's leading scientists, recognizes efforts to advance science that are scientifically or socially distinguished, officials say. The tradition of AAAS fellows began in 1874.

Carrington was recognized "for sustained innovative contributions to the fields of virology and plant biology that have significant implications for plant and human welfare." He is a leader in the study of "microRNA pathways" in plants, an important and evolving field of research that is helping to explain the development, chromatin structure, genome defense and antiviral defense of plants. He also does research on virus-host interactions in plants.

Research on small RNAs was recognized in 2002 by the journal Science as the "breakthrough of the year" for the profound importance this field of study may have in medicine, agriculture and other areas.

Carrington received his doctorate from University of California at Berkeley and has been on the OSU faculty since 2001.

The AAAS 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. Founded in 1848, the AAAS serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science.