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Twenty-six USF faculty members recognized with Outstanding Research Achievement Awards

Twenty-six USF faculty members recognized with Outstanding Research Achievement Awards

USF’s faculty continue to make big discoveries and important contributions with outstanding research achievements.

TAMPA, Fla. – Among these impressive discoveries and advancements, one researcher in USF Health has created a nationally acclaimed interactive dashboard to track COVID-19 and another is developing novel COVID-19 therapeutics. Another faculty member has received NASA funding to improve human spaceflight conditions, while her colleague is creating new defenses for wireless network security systems. And in USF Health Morsani College of Medicine a professor has made outstanding contributions relevant to Alzheimer’s disease.

These are just a few of the faculty research achievements newly recognized with USF’s Outstanding Research Achievement Awards. This year’s awards recognize 26 faculty members—the largest group to date—for their important achievements.

“The University of South Florida’s reputation as a top research university is powered by the discoveries and innovations of our faculty members,” said USF President Rhea Law. “I congratulate each of the outstanding awardees on all they have accomplished in their work of advancing knowledge, finding solutions and transforming lives.”

The largest internal recognition of its kind at USF, the annual nominations are submitted by deans, department chairs, center and institute directors, and associate deans of research. The nominations are reviewed by members of the USF Research Council. Each faculty member receives $2,000 with the award and recognition at an event later in the fall.

Here are this year’s awardees:

Dr. Kathy Black

Kathy Black, PhD, MPH
Professor, School of Aging Studies
College of Behavioral and Community Sciences

Recognized for extraordinary leadership in the promotion of equitable healthy aging in age-friendly community practice—statewide, nationally, and internationally.

Dr. Black is a renowned expert on healthy aging in age-friendly community practice. Her research informs and inspires professionals across a range of disciplines in the built, social, and service environment. In 2021, Dr. Black received a grant to develop an Equitable Healthy Aging toolkit for the nation’s community health improvement professionals, aligning the concepts of health equity and healthy aging to enhance the capacity of the nation’s local health departments. The project extends Dr. Black’s leadership role in age-friendly public health practice at the state, national and international level. Dr. Black also continued to lead Florida’s statewide age-friendly community network in 2021, conduct advisory roles on healthy aging for the Florida Departments of Health and Transportation, and manage the state’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Training program through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Patrice Buzzanell

Patrice M. Buzzanell, PhD
Distinguished University Professor, Communication
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for numerous publications, a signed book contract, receiving two top national and international awards, and a ranking in the top 2% of cited scientists in the world by a recent Stanford University study.

Dr. Buzzanell is a world-renowned scholar in Organizational Communication, Resilience, and Design in Engineering Education. Dr. Buzzanell’s research brings together organizational sense-making, career theory, feminist workplace policies and practices, design for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and currently, theories of and scales for resilience in organizational and relational spaces. A scholar, teacher, and mentor, who has won nearly every available award in the discipline, Dr. Buzzanell continues to research and publish at a rate unparalleled by her peers. In 2021, Dr. Buzznell was ranked in the top 2% of scientists world-wide; she was honored with multiple national and international awards (two from the most recognized ones in the discipline), delivered keynote speeches across the globe, published seven journal articles (in top-tier journals) and two refereed engineering education proceedings, six book chapters, three non-refereed journal articles, and signed a contract for a co-authored book project on ethics.

Dr. Stephanie Carey

Stephanie Carey, PhD
Research Faculty, Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for seminal contributions in prosthetics and orthotics, in monitoring performance and situational awareness of military personnel and improving human spaceflight conditions.

Dr. Carey's investigations of prosthetics and orthotics led to journal and conference articles and funding from the Department of Defense, U.S. Army, and Tampa VA in 2021. She also received funding from USSOCOM to develop a monitoring and alert system and will conduct another project to study performance limitations under cognitive load for the military. In collaboration with the Department of Neurology and School of Music, Dr. Carey filed a patent for a device for the treatment of dystonia. Dr. Carey has expanded her research efforts to include the effects of human spaceflight which has led to NASA funding to study biomechanics and spacesuits, and an international provisional patent for a device to synthesize compounds. Dr. Carey continues her efforts as the research coordinator for the Center of Assistive, Rehabilitation & Robotics Technologies (CARRT) and as a trained operator of the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system.

Dr. Yu Chen

Yu Chen, PhD
Associate Professor, Molecular Medicine
Morsani College of Medicine

Recognized for significant contributions to studies of bacterial resistance against beta-lactam antibiotics and developing novel therapeutics against COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Chen focuses on structure-based inhibitor design targeting infection diseases and other human diseases. In 2021, he was awarded a 5-year R01 grant studying bacterial resistance against beta-lactam antibiotics with a total funding of $3,803,725. He was also awarded an R21 grant studying the bacterial pathogen S. aureus, as well as serving as co-Investigator on an R01 developing novel therapeutics against COVID-19. Dr. Chen has made significant contributions to studies of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2, a key antiviral target. In the past year, among a total of nine research papers, he published four on inhibitor discovery against the main protease as corresponding or co-corresponding author, in journals such as Cell Research (Impact factor, 25.62), Journal of American Chemical Society (IF, 15.42), ACS Central Science (IF, 14.55) and Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (IF, 7.45).

Dr. Jennifer Collins

Jennifer Collins, PhD
Professor, School of Geosciences
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the fields of geography and meteorology, particularly for her role on the team which discovered the first category 5 hurricane on record to make landfall in the United States as well as significant work on hurricane evacuation behavior during a pandemic. 

Dr. Jennifer Collins had 15 publications in 2021 either published (nine of them), accepted, or submitted then later accepted. On most, she lead authored or was supervisor of lead author graduate students. She included several undergraduates as coauthors. These were significant papers, such as one lead-authored by her masters student, highlighted in the Washington Post, regarding identification of the first Category 5 hurricane on record to affect the U.S. In 2021, she had three active grants, including two from NSF, and submitted four grants. Dr. Collins’ work transects the fields of Geography and Meteorology. She was voted as Fellow in 2021 in both of her major organizations: the American Meteorological Society and the American Association of Geographers. She also received a scholarship from the Natural Hazards Center.

Dr. Lingling Fan

Lingling Fan, PhD
Professor, Electrical Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of power and energy, particularly for modeling and analysis of inverter-based resource penetrated power grids and providing fundamental understandings on real-world dynamic phenomena and mitigation solutions for reliability enhancement.

Dr. Fan is an internationally recognized leader in the field of inverter-based resource (IBR)-penetrated power grid dynamic analysis and control. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Electrification Magazine and is the PI on a multi-year $1.5 million DOE project on solar PV modeling and analysis (2019-2023). In 2021, Dr. Fan published 10 articles in IEEE Power and Energy Society's transactions, the top journals in her field, and was corresponding author and supervisor in all of them and lead author in 5. She also received a $350,000 grant from NSF on IBR dynamic model identification using data and was elevated to IEEE Fellow for her contributions to IBR stability analysis and control in November 2021. Dr. Fan's numerous publications were cited 924 times in 2021 alone.

Dr. Howard Goldstein

Howard Goldstein, PhD
Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
College of Behavioral and Community Sciences

Recognized for a sustained history of exemplary publications and distinguished contributions to communication sciences and disorders for intervention strategies to promote early  development of language, literacy, and social skills.

Dr. Goldstein is an Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders. His career accomplishments were recognized with the 2021 Kawana Award for Lifetime Achievement in Publications. His recent grants and publications advance knowledge of interventions to enhance readiness of students in high poverty schools who are at risk for language and reading disabilities. His research on how best to teach academic vocabulary and early literacy skills to young children has expanded into written language development. His 2021 publications represent innovative practices for assessing and teaching writing skills in kindergarten and first grade. He and his students investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic affected speech-language pathology services and provided important information about the validity of telehealth assessments that had been called into question. His leadership also was evident in the continued development of the USF Pandemic Response Research Network™ (PRRN™) and an associated publication on how universities can address global challenges.

Dr. Rasim Guldiken

Rasim Guldiken, PhD
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for seminal contributions to acoustics, engineering education research, more specifically novel bridge inspection by ultrasound, as well as student-centered inclusive learning, metacognition, and reflection on STEM courses.

In 2021, Dr. Guldiken served as the PI of a diverse research group focused on Acoustics and Engineering Education Research composed of seven PhD students, including three females and one student from an underrepresented group. Both research areas received external funding in 2021 (one from NSF, one from the U.S. Department of Transportation through industry). Along with his PhD students, Dr. Guldiken was issued two U.S. patents, filed for one U.S. patent, published two journal papers, and was invited to speak about his research on channel Fox 13. One of his PhD students received second place overall in Jabil's Innovation Technology Challenge 2021 for his dissertation project. Dr. Guldiken's educational resources, shared on YouTube and supported by NSF funding, have been viewed more than 165,000 times and were watched for 10,000 hours by over 55,000 unique viewers in 2021.

Dr. Elizabeth Hadley

Elizabeth Hadley, PhD
Assistant Professor, Language, Literacy, Ed.D., Exceptional Education & Physical Education
College of Education

Recognized for seminal work in children’s early literacy development, including vocabulary interventions, teacher language practices, early childhood vocabulary instruction, and research-based principles for choosing vocabulary words. 

Dr. Hadley’s research focuses on supporting early language and literacy development in children from marginalized backgrounds. Dr. Hadley received two grants from prestigious educational organizations in 2021: a Spencer Foundation Small Grant Award—awarded to less than 10% of applicants—and an American Educational Research Association Seed Grant Award. She published four articles as lead author in high-impact journals, including two publications with a doctoral student co-author. In one article, Hadley and colleagues reported findings from a vocabulary intervention; in another they examined teacher language practices. In a third article, she systematically reviewed studies on early childhood vocabulary instruction, and in a fourth article drew on these findings to communicate principles for choosing vocabulary words. In 2021, Dr. Hadley continued her commitments to community engagements with local non-profits and community partners, including Pinellas County Schools (e.g., Pre-Ks, the Center for Literacy Innovation) and Lutheran Family Services’ Head Start.

Dr. Micah Johnson

Micah Johnson, PhD
Associate Professor, Mental Health Law and Policy
College of Behavioral and Community Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of behavioral health, particularly focused on childhood trauma, substance misuse, juvenile justice research, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Dr. Johnson is a sociologist trained in criminology and psychiatric epidemiology. His research centers around childhood trauma, behavioral health, and juvenile justice. In 2021, Dr. Johnson published five papers and was awarded $2.3 million in NIH grants—three multi-year grants to create programs to enhance diversity in research: Substance Misuse and Abuse Research Traineeship (SMART), Scientific Training in Addiction Research Techniques (START), using Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study data, and Examining the Stress Processes Relating Ethnicity and Sex to Substance Misuse and Service Outcomes (ESPRESSO). His research was cited by the New York Times, ESPN, Senator Bernie Sanders, among others. Dr. Johnson published two books in 2021: a picture book entitled Never Had a Friend, which helps to facilitate discussions of adversity and resilience, and the Little Book of Police Youth Dialogue: A Restorative Path Toward Justice, which is a leading resource for police-community relationships. Dr. Johnson also served in federal courts as an expert pioneer witness of forensic sociology.

Dr. Stephen Liggett

Stephen Liggett, MD
Professor, Internal Medicine
Morsani College of Medicine

Recognized for outstanding contributions in the study of molecular, cellular, and biophysical mechanisms of receptor signaling with fundamental relevance to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases.

Dr. Liggett is a Professor of Internal Medicine, Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, and Medical Engineering. In 2021, he obtained a new R01 grant from NIH, which explores the molecular basis of biasing G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a concept which he has pioneered. The grant has highly molecular and computational methods, and also includes specific studies aimed at novel asthma therapy. He published four papers on GPCRs or their associated proteins, the most impactful being in PNAS which represents landmark findings using molecular and cellular biology with unique, quantum mechanics-based, 3D modeling of the biasing of a receptor complex. A patent application was submitted based on this work in 2021. Other papers such as in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters revealed distinct elements of agonist-receptor interactions using site-directed mutagenesis and innovative computational methods. Collectively his research is relevant to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases.

Dr. Zhuo Lu

Zhuo Lu, PhD
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for significant research contribution in designing new ways to identify vulnerabilities and creating new defense strategies to enhance the security in today's computer and wireless network systems.

Dr. Lu is an expert in wireless and network system security. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2021 for his research project to create novel data-driven approaches to design efficient and secure wireless networks with an award amount of $500,000. His research on network design and security in 2021 was also supported by NSF, Department of Defense, and Department of Energy (with funding totaling over $1 million). Dr. Lu published six full research papers in top academic journals and in conference proceedings, based on identifying new vulnerabilities and creating new defenses for today's computer and wireless network security systems. In addition to academic publications, his research results also produced four reports of vulnerability and abusive behavior to major service providers in the U.S. in 2021.

Dr. Dinorah Martinez Tyson

Dinorah Martinez Tyson, PhD, MPH, MA
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Science and Practice
College of Public Health

Recognized for exceptional contributions to the field of public health through efforts to address and reduce health disparities among ethnic minorities and underserved populations in the U.S. and Latin America.

Dr. Martinez Tyson is noted for her outstanding contributions in cross-cultural perspectives to the study of cancer health disparities. Her research focuses on identifying the best models and methods for adapting instrumentation and proven interventions to address health disparities across the cancer continuum. She led an exploratory sequential mixed method study, which employed a series of iterative and group consensus-building approaches, to translate and culturally adapt the previously validated CaSUN measure into Spanish, for Latino cancer survivors. In 2021, she was awarded a highly competitive PCORI grant to develop a culturally adapted online couples' communication program for Latina breast cancer patients, and brought together a diverse and highly skilled academic and community-based research team to undertake this challenging project.

Dr. Ambe Njoh

Ambe Njoh, PhD
Professor, School of Geosciences
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for his distinguished contributions to the fields of International Development, Environmental Policy, Renewable Energy, and Public Infrastructure Systems with emphasis on questions of environmental and spatial equity, fairness and justice in Africa.

Professor Njoh is an acclaimed authority on international development, urban planning, environmental science and policy with a research focus on Africa. His publications frequently appear on the reading list of international development, urban planning and environmental courses throughout the world. In 2021, he was ranked among the top 2% of the most productive scientific researchers in the world in a Stanford University study. Also, he was an awardee of the United States’ Ambassadors’ Distinguished Scholar Program (ADSP) and assigned to Mekelle University, Ethiopia. Professor Njoh's works were cited 390 times in 2021. He was the co-author or sole author of three peer-reviewed papers published in 2021. He was the lead or sole author of four additional papers that have been accepted and are awaiting publication. Additionally, Dr. Njoh is a member of the editorial boards for the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City, and the journal Habitat International.

Dr. Yashwant Pathak

Yashwant Pathak, PhD, BPharm, MPharm, Executive MBA, MSCM
Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Pharmaceutical Science
Taneja College of Pharmacy

Recognized for election as a AAAS Fellow and distinguished contributions to the academia and research of pharmaceutical sciences.

Professor Pathak was elected Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (FAAAS) in 2021. Elected as Adjunct Professor at University of Airlangga, Indonesia and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Dr. Pathak coordinated Honors College course (spring and fall 2021) and a Risk Management and Nanotechnology graduate course at Taneja College of Pharmacy. He edited three books: Emerging Technologies for Nanoparticle Manufacturing, Bioactive Peptides, and Nutraceuticals for Aging and Antiaging, contributed 13 chapters, and eight reviews in journals with impact factors ranging from 4 to 8. Nine articles were published in journals with Honors College students as first authors. One of his reviews published in Stem Cell Research and Therapy (impact factor 8.0) was cited 123 times. In 2021, he received two U.S. patents. He presented several talks in International conference in 2021, mostly online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Christine Ruva

Christine Ruva, PhD
Professor, Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to Psychology and Law, particularly for research on pretrial publicity’s impact on a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, which resulted in an invitation to assist in writing an amicus curiae brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Ruva’s research focuses on examining the factors that bias juror decision making and exploring mechanisms responsible for this bias, as well as possible remedies. This research has significant applied importance as juror bias can compromise a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and challenge the prosecution’s ability to prove guilt—thus having important implications for defendants and victims. In 2021, she published a peer-reviewed article in a high-impact journal as lead author, with another accepted for publication, and a third  published for which she served as supervisor of research. Additionally, she wrote two invited book chapters with the goal of giving the science to practitioners in the field (e.g., attorneys and judges). Dr. Ruva was invited to serve as lead author in the writing of an amicus curiae brief for the United States Supreme Court, and as such, led a team of psycho-legal scholars to assist attorneys in writing the brief, which was submitted to the court in August 2021. The brief’s focus was on cognitive bias resulting from exposure to pretrial publicity that “fundamentally affects how jurors will process evidence during the trial and deliberate in the jury room.”

Dr. Jason Salemi

Jason Salemi, PhD, MPH, FACE
Associate Professor, Concentration Lead for the PhD Program in Epidemiology
College of Public Health

Recognized for seminal work in translational science related to COVID-19 transmission and mitigation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Salemi is a nationally recognized epidemiologist with expertise in birth defects, surveillance methodology, evaluation, and research. He built a comprehensive, interactive dashboard to track COVID-19, which received national attention and has been an invaluable resource for researchers, advocacy groups, county commissioners, and citizens. In 2021, Dr. Salemi conducted approximately 350 interviews to local, regional, national and international media outlets regarding COVID-19 transmission and mitigation. His presence was also evident in eleven presentations he made regarding COVID-19 at regional and state-level venues including the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners and the Emergency Medical Planning Council. He also engaged with Publix Super Markets, Inc. to lead various townhall discussions with employees regarding COVID vaccination. Dr. Salemi had 14 publications in 2021, received the 2021 Griot Drum Community Hero award from the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, the Above and Beyond Coronavirus Distinction (ABCD) award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and was selected as a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology.

Dr. Joshua Scacco

Joshua M. Scacco, PhD
Associate Professor, Communication
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for outstanding contributions and publications on political communication and its implications for leadership, governance, and democracy.

Dr. Scacco, a political communication scholar, is an expert on U.S. presidential communication and news media. He focuses on how political leaders, journalists, and individuals in a democracy navigate politics and governance due to technological changes in outreach and communication. In 2021, he was lead author of a book titled The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times, published with Oxford University Press; was selected for the Judith S. Trent Award for Early Career Excellence in Political Communication from the Central States Communication Association; received a national top paper award; published four additional research pieces; worked on funded collaborations with, and delivered lectures in, the local community; and gave 37 international, national, and local news media interviews.

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico, MFA
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, English
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of contemporary American poetry, with an emphasis on border studies, Latinx/Hispanic poetics, and activism against femicide.

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is a nationally renowned poet who writes about the Mexico-U.S. border, femicide, and undocumented life in the United States. She is the winner of a 2021 Windham-Campbell Award from Yale University, which included a $165,000 unrestricted grant and participation in a week-long festival featuring her work and that of the other five winners. The Windham-Campbell is an international career award that features the best writers in the English language regardless of genre and selected by an anonymous nominating committee of the best writers and editors in the country. The festival, hosted by Yale University, included featured readings, lectures, and workshops by Scenters-Zapico and was broadcast internationally. Over the course of 2021, she also published poems and signed contracts for work forthcoming in some of the best literary magazines in the country. These new poems have been or will be featured in New England Review, Yale Review, Colorado Review, and more.

Dr. Elizabeth Schotter

Elizabeth Schotter, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, particularly for the development of detailed theories of the neuro-cognitive mechanisms involved in the process of skilled reading and the development of advanced experimental methods used to study those processes.

Dr. Schotter is a leading expert on eye movements and cognition, and an emerging authority on the co-registration method that synchronizes measurements of EEG (i.e., “brain waves”) and eye movements in order to understand neural processes underlying skilled reading. In 2021, Dr. Schotter published three papers in the top-tier outlets in her field, including Psychophysiology, Journal of Memory and Language, and Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Her work has been cited 324 times in 2021. Additionally In 2021, she was awarded seven grants totaling $826,765 in external funding, including a three-year collaboration across institutions that investigates the contributions of visual and linguistic information to the reading process for deaf signers compared to hearing individuals, as well as a Leading Edge Workshop, co-funded by the Psychonomic Society and the National Science Foundation on the use of co-registration to study reading and visual attention.

Dr. Ankit Shah

Ankit Shah, PhD
Assistant Professor, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the research and development of AI-enabled decision-support methodologies for detecting and mitigating physical and digital threats in defense and civilian applications.

Dr. Shah is the director of the Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory for Secure Systems at USF. His research focuses on developing AI-aided methodologies that augment human decision-making in detecting and mitigating physical and digital threats in defense and civilian applications. Dr. Shah published three papers and filed for two utility patents in 2021, demonstrating his research expertise in deep reinforcement learning (DRL) with applications in cybersecurity, military systems, and homeland security. He gave an invited talk on improving cybersecurity using DRL at the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Workshop on Adaptive Cyber Defense for the Army Research Office, and his paper on the development of an adversarial RL-based robust cyber alert inspection system was designated as highly relevant to developers and engineers by the Association for Computing Machinery in 2021. Dr. Shah received a $200,000 research grant from the industry and Florida High Tech Corridor to develop an AI-enabled decision-support framework for anomaly detection in imbalanced data sets.

Dr. David Simmons

David S. Simmons, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemical, Biological, & Materials Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for work transforming the understanding of molecular motion, flow, and deformation in nanostructured polymers and polymer films employed in energy, separations, and structural materials applications.

Dr. Simmons is an international expert on the chemical physics and design of polymers and glassy materials, as reflected by his invited book chapter, accepted in 2021, covering all of macromolecular modeling. In 2021, he received a Department of Energy (DOE) award providing over $400,000 to understand the origins of mechanical toughness in nanocomposite rubbery polymers to enable tougher materials empowering more robust energy systems. Dr. Simmons’ work published in Nature resolved the nature of the surfaces of polymer glasses—a 30-year question with implications for polymer adhesion, self-healing, and processing. A paper in PNAS provided transformational insights into how material properties are altered in thin films and nanostructured materials critical to energy, structural, and sustainability technologies. Work in Macromolecules further explained the flow behavior of these materials. Dr. Simmons also worked with USF’s College Reach-Out Program (CROP) to create and run a summer workshop that trained high-school students from underrepresented backgrounds in programming for scientific applications.

Dr. Marilyn Stern

Marilyn Stern, PhD
Professor, Child and Family Studies
College of Behavioral and Community Sciences

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of psychology and pediatric health, particularly for development of parent-involved interventions for obese children and adolescents, pediatric cancer survivors, and at-risk youth.

Dr. Stern is a Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies whose research has focused on psychosocial oncology and obesity in children and adolescents, especially youth from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. She has advanced understanding of the complexities youth face when navigating post-recovery and transition to cancer survivorship. Her 2021 continued-funding NIH grants as PI support her work, notably for the development of the NOURISH-T+ intervention, a complex randomized control trial (RCT) evaluating a web-based, empirically supported, obesity intervention designed specifically for pediatric cancer survivors and their parents. Dr. Stern has also been engaged in a significant community-based NIH project implementing her intervention, ADAPT+, to assist Latino families dealing with obesity. She was named as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (FAAAS) in 2021 and received the 2021 College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) Outstanding Research Award for productivity over a 3-year span.

Dr. Monica Uddin

Monica Uddin, PhD
Professor, Global and Planetary Health
College of Public Health

Recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of public health for genomics research to identify predictors for stress-related mental disorders related to depression and PTSD.

Dr. Uddin’s innovative research seeks to identify genetic and epigenetic predictors of stress-related mental disorders, with a particular focus on depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A central theme of this work is the recognition that lived experience has a substantial impact on risk for mental disorders, and that this risk is likely mediated in part by changes to genomic biology. In 2021, Dr. Uddin was awarded duration of grant funding for two important projects for which she serves as MPI and that all address genomic factors in traumatic stress and mental health: Epigenomic Predictors of PTSD and Traumatic Stress in an African American Cohort; The impact of traumatic stress on the methylome: implications for PTSD; and Transgenerational Epigenomics of Trauma and PTSD in Rwanda. In addition, she and her colleagues published four articles in 2021 with two additional manuscripts in press.

Dr. Thomas Unnasch

Thomas Unnasch, PhD
Distinguished University Professor, Global and Planetary Health
College of Public Health

Recognized for distinguished contributions in translational science related to COVID‐19, modeling, projections and mitigation during the pandemic.

Dr. Unnasch’s long‐term research has focused on vector‐borne diseases; his laboratory is involved with developing new tools to enhance the efficiency of the surveillance activities and development of molecular based methods for the detection of the black fly vector in Africa and Latin America. In 2021, Dr. Unnasch’s work with USF colleagues on the development of mathematical algorithms to use data collected from screening pools of vectors—such as COVID‐19 pools—to quantify the intensity of exposure in affected human populations resulted in his being one of the experts at USF and in Florida identified early in the pandemic to assist in explaining the status of transmission and mitigation.

 Dr. Michael Cai Wang

Michael Cai Wang, PhD
Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Medical Engineering
College of Engineering

Recognized for outstanding contributions to the field of low-dimensional nanomaterials and interfaces, particularly for advancements in the understanding of self-assembly processes for scalable nanomanufacturing.

Dr. Wang received the USF Outstanding Faculty Award, USF College of Engineering Outstanding Research Achievement Award, an American Chemical Society (ACS) PRF award, and a TMS Functional Materials (FMD) Young Leaders Professional Development Award, all in 2021. Additionally, he published seven high impact journal articles (Advanced Electronic Materials [7.295], Environmental Research Letters [6.793], ACS ES&T Water, Micromachines [2.891], Materials Today [31.041], Scientific Reports [4.379]), and two conference proceedings (ASME MSEC and TMS). These scholarly outputs are the culmination of the hard work of Dr. Wang with his three PhD students and five undergraduate research assistants.

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