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Early-Career Faculty Win Prestigious NSF Awards

Bird sits on top of the wolf statues outside Murphy Football Center

Nine NC State faculty members have received one of the highest honors given by the National Science Foundation to early-career researchers. Each year the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program awards about 450 grants, called CAREER awards, to scientists and engineers who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organization.

Meet the NC State awardees:

  • Ashley Brown, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, won $499,985 to develop new materials that mimic the ability of platelets to change shape in response to injury. The materials will be tested for their ability to change shape, stop bleeding and improve healing.
  • Matthew Bryant, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, won $500,000 to create a new type of actuator inspired by human muscle tissues that will make assistive robotics safer, more comfortable and more compatible with the human body.
  • Wei-chen Chang, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded $400,000 for a project that aims to repurpose specific iron-containing enzymes to speed up a variety of chemical reactions that these proteins do not typically perform, including the biosynthesis of compounds of industrial interest. The project will also include opportunities to introduce underrepresented middle school students in rural areas of North Carolina to research in chemical biology.
  • Michael Daniele, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received $500,000 to investigate and engineer a new generation of reconfigurable biosensor platforms that can be used to measure multiple circulating biomarkers and inform the development and analysis of microphysiological models, which replicate human organ function.
  • Xiaogang Hu, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, was awarded $500,000 to decode the descending neural command/drive that controls individual finger movement to improve human-machine interaction and neural rehabilitation.
  • David Papp, assistant professor of mathematics, won $400,000 to design and analyze new numerical optimization methods that will enable rigorous assessment and more widespread use of novel radiotherapy cancer treatments.
  • Teya Rutherford, assistant professor of educational psychology, will help more than 1 million users of a Spatial-Temporal Math digital platform in real time through a $978,024 grant that will enable her to advance existing research by studying how motivation impacts students’ in-the-moment choices during learning.
  • Arvind Saibaba, assistant professor of mathematics, was awarded $400,000 to develop fast and cost-effective algorithms for uncertainty quantification that can be applied across a broad range of imaging technologies.
  • Anna Stepanova, assistant professor of plant and microbial biology, received $1,275,899 to develop molecular tools that precisely control where and when auxin, a hormone that promotes plant growth and development, is made. The project could have important implications for agriculture and medicine.
  • Yuan Yao, assistant professor of sustainability science and engineering, was awarded $519,562 to advance potential applications of biochar, a carbon-rich solid byproduct of biomass conversions, by using artificial intelligence approaches to predict process data and life cycle assessment of various combinations of biomass feedstocks and conversion pathways.

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