Scholars of Excellence

Chih Foundation Research & Publication Award

The Chih Foundation recognizes groundbreaking research with transformative potential to greatly benefit society. The award seeks to support exceptional third- or fourth-year Science, Engineering or Medicine PhD, PharmD, or MD students.

Through their generosity, the Chih Foundation Research & Publication Award provides a $2,500 monetary award to exemplary scholars who reflect these qualities.

Research projects will be evaluated in relation to the following parameters:

  • Publications submitted to peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate a common theme within the nominee’s research area
  • Significance of research findings– does the project challenge existing paradigms, address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in this field?
  • Originality of approach – does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies in this area?
  • Extent of student contributions to the success of the research projects and publications completed within the research area
  • Clarity in content and format of the written materials.


The application deadline for consideration is in early October of each year. For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies.

Submission Material Requirements

The applicant will need to prepare the following materials:

  1. A 250-word (maximum) abstract describing the research area. Please address how these articles are advancing knowledge in your field.
  2. Select 2-3 of your top publications and describe how your research benefits health care, advances health science, or provides benefit to society. Prepare to address the following questions about each article in the online application:
    • Specify the significance of your research findings. What important problem are you addressing with this article? How are you challenging existing paradigms or addressing a critical hypothesis or barrier in this field?
    • Describe the originality of your approach. How does the project incorporate novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies in this field?
      Clearly indicate what your role has been in each project described and the papers that you had primary responsibility for writing.
    • What other information would you like the judges to know about your research?
  3. A copy of the published papers and papers that are being reviewed for publication (including the abstract).
  4. Nominee’s current vita.

The 250 word abstract and the answers to the questions listed in item #2 above will be uploaded into the nomination form. Copies of the articles and the nominee’s CV must be submitted as one (1) document. 

2022 Chih Foundation Research & Publication Award Recipients

Christian Brown

Christian Brown (Integrative Biology)
Mentor: Stephen Deban, Ph.D.

Research Summary

"Christian’s research interests include the movements of amphibians, especially plethodontid salamanders, ranging from fine-scale biomechanics of locomotion to dispersal at the ecosystem level. Ultimately, his work examines the life history of amphibians in the broader context of ecological and evolutionary theory with the goal of increasing awareness for conservation. 

Skeptics of evolution once asked Charles Darwin, “what use is half a wing?” Like evolution, the origin of animal flight has long been debated. While the debate continues, the directed aerial descent of wingless salamanders confirms the idea that life in the trees can spur flight. Wandering salamanders (Aneides vagrans) reside in the crowns of coast redwood trees, the tallest trees on the planet; how they manage to move through the canopy to locate mates and resources or avoid predators is not well understood. This research takes a comparative approach to studying how A. vagrans handles the biomechanical challenges of navigating in and jumping from its extreme arboreal niche. 

Results reveal how drag is useful for supporting the body weight of modern flying animals ranging from ‘entry level’ wingless salamanders to fully fledged birds. This new appreciation of the full spectrum of wingless to winged body plans that can all aerodynamically support body weight continuously boosts our understanding of the evolution of flight."

Visit Mr. Brown's website for additional information.


Salman Sadiq Shuvo

Salman Sadiq Shuvo (Electrical Engineering)
Mentor: Yasin Yilmaz, Ph.D.

Research Summary

"Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) is a popular Machine Learning technique for optimization and resource allocation tasks. DRL techniques require a simulated environment to capture the stochasticity of real-world complex systems. This uncertainty in future transitions makes the planning authorities doubt real-world implementation success. My projects on environmental, healthcare, and energy systems focus on appropriate system dynamics modeling and state-of-the-art DRL techniques for experimental analysis. In the process, I have developed novel DRL (Multi-agent and Multi-objective) algorithms."


Past Chih Foundation Research & Publication Award Winners


Name Department College
Melissa Bikowitz Molecular Medicine Morsani College 
Ausmita Sarker Computer Science & Engineering College of Engineering
Veena Subramanian Cell Biology, Microbiology, & Molecular Biology College of Arts & Sciences


Name Department College
Michael Sacco Molecular Medicine Morsani College of Medicine
Karthick Mayilsamy Molecular Medicine Morsani College of Medicine


Name Department College
Anthony Sanchez Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology College of Arts and Sciences


Name Department College
Jeremy Baker Molecular Medicine Morsani College of Medicine
Bi Zhao Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology College of Arts and Sciences
Longwei Wang Electrical Engineering College of Engineering


Name Department College
Mengqiu Wang Marine Science College of Marine Science


Name Department College
Andy Weiss Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology College of Arts and Sciences