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Faculty Highlights: Recent Grants and Awards

October 21, 2020

Faculty Highlights

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Drexel University faculty continued with and were recognized for their scholarly research and professional contributions and recognitions. This update offers a snapshot of recent activity, courtesy of the Office of the Provost.

Major Gifts, Honors and Recognitions

Distinguished University and Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor in Materials Science Engineering Yury Gogotsi, PhD, received the 2021 American Chemical Society (ACS) National Award in the Chemistry of Materials. The ACS National Awards program is designed to encourage the advancement of chemistry in all its branches, to support research in chemical science and industry, and to promote the careers of chemists. Gogotsi will receive the award at the ACS 2021 Spring National Meeting in San Antonio, Texas in March 2021.

Independence Blue Cross Foundation gave $151,004 to the College of Nursing and Health Professions through the Nurses for Tomorrow Initiative. 

Michael Vogeley, PhD, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was admitted to membership in the International Astronomical Union (IAU), having been nominated by the U.S. National Committee for the IAU of the National Academies. 

Associate Dean of Community-Centered Health and Wellness and Academic Integration, Director of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services and College of Nursing and Health Professions Professor Roberta Waite, EdD, was selected as a member for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's Trauma-Informed Think Tank, which is charged with setting guidelines and benchmarks for trauma informed care across Pennsylvania.

Gwen Ottinger, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was invited to be the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Science and Society at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa in summer 2021. She will work with Canadian colleagues on the comparative study “Co-production of Knowledge and Justice in Environmental Policy.”

Nancy Spector, MD, executive director of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program for women and associate dean for faculty development in the College of Medicine, was selected to receive the Association of American Medical Colleges 2020 Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award for an Individual, recognizing her record of academic leadership and career-long commitment to developing women leaders.

Franco Montalto, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering, has been officially appointed by New York City Mayor de Blasio’s office to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). This 20-member independent advisory board will synthesize scientific information on climate change and advise city policy makers on local resiliency and adaptation strategies to protect against rising temperatures, increased flooding and other hazards. 

Sponsored Research

Janet Chen, MD, assistant professor in the College of Medicine/St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, is a principal investigator for the clinical trial “Study to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, and Efficacy of Remdesivir (GS-5734™) in Participants From Birth to < 18 Years of Age With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” sponsored by Gilead Sciences.  

The laboratory of Mauricio Reginato, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, became one of ten labs in the country to join the Alliance of Glycobiologists for Cancer Research, in conjunction with Reginato’s receipt of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) UO1 grant for his project “Role of O-GlcNAcome on Breast Cancer Initiating Cells.” The five-year, $2.8 million grant is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Fraser Fleming, PhD, department head of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a $490,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his project “Expanding the Fundamental Reactivity of Isocyanides.” The project is designed to fundamentally advance the synthesis and reactions of isocyanides and nitriles.

Meghan Butryn, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a $402,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for “Optimizing an mhealth Intervention to Change Food Purchasing Behaviors for Cancer Prevention,” which is developing an mHealth intervention focused on grocery shopping, with a goal of improving adherence to dietary guidelines for cancer prevention.

Drexel University is a member of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center's consortium, which includes 26 members from Drexel. The research programs, which are supported through a NCI Cancer Center Support Grant, were recently realigned with several Drexel faculty have been named co-leaders of several of the programs: Butryn is a co-leader of the Cancer Risk and Control Program, and Reginato as well as Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, are co-leaders of the Translational Cellular Oncology Program.

Akhil Vaidya, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, and Sandhya Kortagere, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the NIH for “Advancing Fast-acting Antimalarials That Disrupt Na+ Homeostasis in Parasites.” The grant runs from Aug. 12, 2020, to July 31, 2025. 

Jacqueline Barker, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Medicine, received a four-year, $2.27 million grant from NIH National Institute on Drug abuse for “Integrating Preclinical Models to Develop Converging Mechanistic Data in Cooccurring HIV and Substance Use,” from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2024

Guy Diamond, PhD, director of Family Intervention Science in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was awarded a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to improve systems of care that help adults reintegrate into family and community services after a hospitalization for a suicide attempt. 

Shannon Capps, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, was awarded an NSF grant entitled “CAREER: Leveraging Complex Variables to Refine Estimates of Air Pollution Emissions and their Impacts under Uncertainty” worth about $500,000 over five years. This grant aims to develop computational tools that will help environmental decision makers evaluate the benefits of reducing emissions from specific sources. Results of the investigation will be made accessible to the public through a partnership with the Franklin Institute and to youth from underserved backgrounds through Science Leadership Academy Middle School classrooms so that they may be informed about air quality impacts of their actions.

Anup Das, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Facilitating Dependable Neuromorphic Computing: Vision, Architecture, and Impact on Programmability,” which includes $432,252 for five years.

Joshua Snyder, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Engineering received the NSF CAREER Award and was awarded funding for “CAREER: Low-Dimensional Reactive Hydrides for the Efficient Electro-hydrogenation of Aromatic and Aliphatic Hydrocarbons.” Snyder’s project investigates electrochemical methods for the selective conversion of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons into value-added chemicals and precursor materials. 

Montalto and Aspasia Zerva, PhD, professors in the College of Engineering, are co-investigators on a William Penn Foundation project funded for $86,800. They designed, built and are monitoring the effectiveness of outdoor cooling strategies involving pavement wetting, sprinklers, misters, and low-cost, pop up shade structures in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia. The entire project will be implemented as a workforce training project, meaning they will be hiring local people to construct and operate the cooling strategies, as well as monitor their effectiveness. 

Andrew Magenau, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, received a Pennsylvania Manufacturing Innovation Program Grant to partner with Boeing to develop a versatile adhesion process that can be conducted rapidly, drawing on Magenau’s polymer and alkylborane expertise and processing and adhesion expertise from Boeing engineers. The goal of the project is to address a bottleneck in many manufacturing processes because polymer substrates are inherently difficult to adhere, often requiring expensive pretreatment and mechanical fastening, or the process of adhesion requires specialized equipment, high temperatures and prolonged cure times.