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NC State Announces Inaugural Goodnight Early Career Innovators

Memorial Belltower

NC State’s inaugural class of Goodnight Early Career Innovators was announced today. This new program recognizes and rewards promising NC State early-career faculty whose scholarship is in STEM or STEM education. The 24 faculty selected will receive $22,000 ­for each of the next three years to support their scholarship and research endeavors.

The program is part of the university’s strategic efforts to invest in and retain top faculty.

“NC State has been responding to needs, solving problems and changing lives for more than a century. We are rooted in tradition — and in innovation,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “The Goodnights’ investment in our faculty helps us recruit and retain innovative minds, and ensures they have the resources they need to address our world’s grand challenges.”

Those eligible for the award must be tenure-track assistant professors at the time of nomination and their scholarship must clearly and substantively contribute to innovations and advancement in STEM or STEM education. Nominees were evaluated based on evidence of early productivity in research and innovation, which may include a strong early record of scholarly publication or dissemination appropriate to their discipline, external funding or recognition as an early career leader in their field.

Faculty members were nominated by their colleges and selected by a committee of senior leaders in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Provost and the Office for Research and Innovation. Forty-one faculty members were nominated for the award.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden noted that “faculty selected as Goodnight Innovators can use their award funds to support their scholarship in a variety of ways. That flexibility can be important as faculty are starting new lines of research. These individuals are already making a difference in their disciplines and we’re glad that the Goodnights’ gift can provide the resources to increase their impact even further.”  

This year’s class of Goodnight Early Career Innovators includes:

  • Milad Abolhasani, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering
  • Veronica Augustyn, assistant professor of materials science and engineering
  • Ashley Brown, assistant professor of biomedical engineering
  • Benjamin Callahan, assistant professor of population health and pathobiology
  • Ericka Ford, assistant professor of textile engineering, chemistry and science
  • Donald Freytes, assistant professor of biomedical engineering
  • Liara Gonzalez, assistant professor of clinical sciences
  • Khara Grieger, assistant professor of applied ecology
  • Ricardo Hernández, assistant professor of horticultural science
  • Anders Huseth, assistant professor of entomology and plant pathology
  • Tobias Kaeser, assistant professor of population health and pathobiology
  • Manuel Kleiner, assistant professor of plant and microbial biology
  • Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering
  • Erin Krupa, assistant professor of STEM education
  • Katie Mack, assistant professor of physics
  • Kurt Marsden, assistant professor of biological sciences
  • Stefano Menegatti, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering
  • Natalie Nelson, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering
  • Kathryn Stevenson, assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management
  • Thomas Theis, assistant professor of chemistry
  • Jack Wang, assistant professor of forestry and environmental resources
  • Xu Xu, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering
  • Ge Yang, assistant professor of nuclear engineering
  • Shu Yang, assistant professor of statistics

In 2012, NC State launched the University Faculty Scholars program to recognize early- and mid-career faculty who are emerging as future academic leaders based on their significant achievements in scholarship, teaching and service.The Goodnight Early Career Innovators program strengthens NC State’s ongoing commitment to faculty excellence and was made possible by a gift from longtime NC State supporters Dr. Jim and Mrs. Ann Goodnight.

The Goodnights are NC State alumni and co-chairs of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. Jim Goodnight — the founder and CEO of SAS — earned his B.S. in applied mathematics in 1965, his M.S. and doctorate in statistics in 1968 and 1972, respectively, and the university conferred an honorary degree to him in 2002. Ann Goodnight earned her B.A. in political science in 1968, works as the senior director of community relations at SAS and serves on the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees. 

In addition to this new program, the Goodnights commitment to faculty excellence has resulted in the creation of 24 named endowed faculty positions across several colleges at NC State as well as support for faculty funds.