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Faculty Highlights: Recent Grants and Awards

October 13, 2021

Faculty Highlights

Last term, Drexel University faculty 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.

Sponsored Research

Gwen Ottinger, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a $220,428 grant from the Sloan Foundation to support her project “Open Science Hardware practice: Transforming the Politics of Scientific Knowledge Production.”

Ezra Wood, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a two-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for his project “Quantification of Ozone Formation Rates in Upper Manhattan.” This project is part of a multi-investigator study on air quality in densely populated coastal cities.

College of Computing & Informatics faculty Christopher MacLellan, PhD, assistant professor; Rosina Weber, PhD, associate professor; and Edward Kim, PhD, associate professor, received $999,999 from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to study sparse coding and extraction of ultrasound knowledge for explainable point-of-care ultrasound Artificial Intelligence.

Vasilis Gkatzelis, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Computing & Informatics, received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program Award of $599,782 under the title of “Optimal Mechanism Design without Monetary Transfers.”

Rajashi Ghosh, PhD, associate professor and chair for Policy, Organization and Leadership in the School of Education received a grant of $307,000 from the National Science Foundation to support her research project titled, “Towards a Theory of Engineering Identity Development & Persistence of Minoritized Students with Imposter Feelings: A Longitudinal Mixed-methods Study of Developmental Networks.”

School of Education’s Toni May, PhD, associate professor, and Kristin Koskey, PhD, visiting scholar, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to support their project, “Collaborative Research: Developing and Evaluating Assessments of Problem-Solving in Computer Adaptive Testing Environments.”

Ivan Bartoli, PhD, associate professor in the College of Engineering, was awarded a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant as part of the Accelerated Marketing Readiness program. The FHWA Cooperative Agreement will provide $499,835 in funding to develop, and eventually commercialize, wireless sensors to be used for enhancing routine and special bridge inspections which ensure the safe operation of our transportation network and performance of bridges. Such information will be critical in prioritizing repairs and maintenance of our aging transportation infrastructure.

James Tangorra, PhD, professor and department head for Engineering Leadership and Society in the College of Engineering, was part of a team to receive a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research titled “Locomotion and Transitions of an Amphibious System: Biologic to Robotic.” The proposed work will build on and extend fundamental studies of the California sea lion’s swimming mechanism and thrust production capabilities. 

Peter Baas, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, received a two-year, $833,000 NIH grant for “Role of Tau in Microtubule Stability in Adult Neurons.”

Christian Sell, PhD, associate professor in the College of Medicine, received a one-year, $310,000 NIH grant for “Novel Longevity Enhancing Pathways Regulated by mTOR.” 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has committed a $500,000 grant to Brandywine Workshop & Archives with Drexel as sub-grantee. Faculty members from the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design’s Department of Arts & Entertainment Enterprise — Julie Goodman, associate professor; Neville Vakharia, associate professor; and Brea Heidelberg, associate professor — will collaborate on succession, business planning and evaluation. School of Education Associate Dean of Research and Associate Professor Jennifer Katz-Buonocontro, PhD, along with graduate students, will conduct ethnographic artist interviews. The Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships (led by Associate Director Melissa Clemmer) will fund co-ops, manage the collaboration, and produce a white paper on the expanded digital resource Artura.

Guy Diamond, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received $147,000 for an 18-month contract from CADEkids to develop an electronic survey to assess the needs of Philadelphia school-age youth and families, related to substance use, behaviors and attitudes.

A collaboration between College of Nursing and Health Professions PI Minjung Shim, PhD, assistant research professor, and co-investigators from the Dornsife School of Public Health (Kathleen Fisher, PhD, professor; Sungchul Park, PhD, assistant professor), College of Arts & Sciences (Fengqing Zhang, PhD, associate professor) and College of Nursing and Health Professions (Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, director of research labs) and others received $74,000 for “At-Home Telehealth Mindfulness-based Dance/Movement Therapy for Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Feasibility Study from Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement 2021 Formula Grant Program.”

Alexis Roth, PhD, associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, received a NIH R01 grant for $4.9 million to conduct a randomized control trial to assess HIV prevention interventions over the next five years.

Jana Hirsch, PhD, assistant research professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded a five-year, $4.4 million R01 National Institute on Aging grant for “Contribution of Longitudinal Neighborhood Determinants to Cognitive Health and Dementia Disparities within a Multi-Ethnic Cohort.” This study aims to identify actionable, community-level interventions to address and remediate racial and socioeconomic inequalities derived from the unequal distribution of environmental supports for healthy aging.

The following faculty were named Louis & Bessie Stein Family Fellowship recipients. The endowed Fellowship supports research, exchange, teaching and collaboration with partners in Israel.

  • Jennifer Adams, EdD, associate professor in the School of Education, for “Becoming Global and Green: Global Citizenship Identification and Environmental Literacy in Green Schools in Israel”
  • Peter Baas, PhD, professor in the College of Medicine, for “Studies on Tau-Based Neurodegeneration Using On-Chip Mini-Brain Human Organoids”
  • Susan Brooks, JD, professor in the Kline School of Law, for “Re-envisioning Restorative Justice as Relational Justice Through a Culturally Sensitive Lens”
  • Andrew Cohen, PhD, associate professor in the College of Engineering, for “Calcium Vesicle Trafficking and Deposition in Live Cultured Skeletogenic Cells”
  • Haifeng (Frank) Ji, PhD, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, for “Metal Phosphorus Halides (MaPbXc) for Magnetic Enantioseparation”
  • Liang Oscar Qiang, MD, PhD, assistant professor in theCollege of Medicine, for “Elucidate Impaired Autophagy as One of the Major Contributors to SPG4-based Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia”

Major Gifts, Honors, Recognition

Myrna Shure, PhD, professor emeritus in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for the Promotion of Social & Emotional Learning.

Rebecca Clothey, PhD, associate head of global studies and modern languages in the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor in the School of Education, was elected to the board of the Comparative and International Education Society.

Sharon Walker, PhD, dean of the College of Engineering, has been named Executive Director of ELATES at Drexel, a national leadership development program designed to advance senior women faculty in academic engineering, computer science, and other STEM fields into effective institutional leadership roles within their schools and universities. Walker will assume this new role in addition to her responsibilities as dean.

College of Medicine faculty members Leon McCrea II, MD, associate professor and senior associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Dennis Novack, MD, professor and associate dean of medical education, received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to spearhead creation of an online learning module on antiracism.

Several faculty from the College on Nursing and Health Professions have been recognized this year for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Highlights include: 

  • Ebony White, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, has been awarded the Dr. Judy Lewis Counselors for Social Justice Award from the American Counseling Association. White also became the president-elect at Counselors of Social Justice, a subsection of the American Counseling Association that has been a consistent voice for counselors involved in social justice work.
  • Helen L. Teng, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was honored during the Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s Day of Service Recognition award ceremony for her volunteer contributions to the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition and received the Mayor's Philly Hero Award.
  • Roberta Waite, EdD, professor, associate dean for Community-Centered Health & Wellness and Academic Integration and executive director of the Stephen & Sandra Sheller 11th St. Family Health Services; Fran Cornelius, PhD, assistant dean of Teaching, Learning and Engagement and clinical professor; and Patti Zuzelo, EdD, clinical professor, PhD in Nursing chair and Doctor of Nursing practice project coordinator received awards from the National Diversity Council. Waite received the Leadership Excellence in Leadership Award; Cornelius, the Leadership Excellence in Technology Award 2021; and Zuzelo, the 2021 Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Ally Award.
  • Kathleen Fisher, PhD, professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was invited to mentor a fellow for the inaugural program in developmental disability nursing at Golisano Fellowship in Developmental Disability Nursing (ID/DD) for the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College starting June 2021.
  • Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, professor and vice president of Health and Health Equity, received the Lazarex Cancer Foundation Disruptor Award from Dana Dornsife, founder and CEO of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. The Disruptor Award is presented to individuals who have responded with urgency, taking action to combat low minority participation in cancer clinical trials.

Michael LeVasseur, PhD, assistant teaching professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded by the Office of New York State Governor for co-founding and for his commitment to providing accurate, scientific information to policymakers about the pandemic.

The City Council of Philadelphia honored and congratulated Sharrelle Barber, PhD, assistant professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, for her appointment as director of The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements and Population Health Equity at Dornsife with a resolution.