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Faculty and Staff

Four Faculty Members Win Outstanding Research Award, Induction to Research Leadership Academy

Four faculty members won the university’s top award for research and mentorship in 2024, highlighting their exceptional contributions to their respective fields. The Outstanding Research Award recognizes faculty who lead in their areas of expertise; empower the success of their fellow NC State faculty; and advance an intellectual, multidisciplinary research community.

By earning the Outstanding Research Award, these four winning faculty have been automatically inducted into the university’s Research Leadership Academy (RLA), an organization committed to bolstering and maintaining NC State’s exceptional research culture. 

This year’s Outstanding Research Award winners are:

  • Joy Gaston Gayles, an Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professor of Higher Education and Head of the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development. Gayles is internationally recognized for her scholarship on women and people of color in STEM fields and her research on intercollegiate athletics in higher education. Named a University Faculty Scholar (2018) and recipient of the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award for Outstanding Faculty (2022) at NC State, she was also honored with the Zenobia L. Hikes Woman of Color in the Academy Award.
  • Fanxing Li, an Alcoa Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the College of Engineering. Li is recognized for his research in energy and environmental engineering and particle technology. Leading the Li Research Group, he has overseen the creation of numerous patents and start-ups — focused on chemical reaction engineering, green liquid fuel synthesis and CO2 capture, and pollutant control. 
  • Ross Meentemeyer, a Goodnight Distinguished Professor of Geospatial Analytics, with an academic appointment in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources. Meentemeyer directs the Center for Geospatial Analytics and spearheaded the interactive Geospatial Forum series, as well as the Faculty Fellows program — which bridges faculty members from 12 departments and six colleges at NC State to advance geospatial data science; Meentemeyer also launched a new doctoral program in Geospatial Analytics in 2018.
  • Behnam Pourdeyhimi, a William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor of Materials in the Wilson College of Textiles and an Executive Director of The Nonwovens Institute. Pourdeyhimi is an expert in nonwovens, biomaterials, modeling, image analysis and filtration, making him a lead consultant for major corporations and leading research bodies globally. Under his supervision, the Nonwovens Institute (NWI) was created as the world’s first accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics. Through its “Open Innovation” platform, NWI connects industry experts to higher education, building the next generation of leaders in nonwoven applications.

“NC State has many exceptional faculty members with outstanding research and creative achievements and a strong commitment to mentorship, said Heike Sederoff, the 2023-2024 chair of the RLA. “Nominations for the Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award are a recognition of their success. I congratulate those who received the award and look forward to their contributions to the Research Leadership Academy.” 

The Outstanding Research Award is given annually by the Office of Research and Innovation and the Alumni Association. The RLA, founded in 2016, is a faculty advisory group to the Vice Chancellor for Research.

This post was originally published in Office of Research and Innovation.