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Faculty Highlights: Recent Grants and Awards

June 16, 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

Simon Danner, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy in the College of Medicine, was awarded a five-year, $903,955 multi-investigator National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for his project “Propriospinal Neuron Function in Normal and Post-SCI Locomotion.” 

Peter Gaskill, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology in the College of Medicine, received a four-year NIH grant totaling $507,065 for “Cannabidiol and Macrophage Chronic Inflammation in a Virally Suppressed Rhesus Macaque Model.”

Lin Han, PhD, associate professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, and colleagues received a three-year, $445,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for the project titled, “Biomechanics of the Primitive Matrix in Embryonic Cartilage and Meniscus,” for which Han is the PI.

Lin Han received the 2021 Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award for research on the structure and function of cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) and its impact on tissue regeneration and disease evolution in osteoarthritis (OA), along with a $20,000 award stipend.

Chris Rodell, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, received a three-year, $300,000 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award for the project titled “Development of a Geometrically Tunable Blood Shunt for Heart Reconstruction Surgery.”

Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, College of Medicine, received a three-year, $300,000 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award for the project titled “Detecting and Disrupting Biofilms in Recurrent Ear Infections.”

Leslie McClure, PhD, professor and chair of the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and associate dean for faculty affairs at the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded $274,000 by the University of Vermont’s Association of University Centers on Disabilities to study risk factors and the burden of COVID-19 related thrombosis and/or bleeding complications.

Ayden Scheim, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded $423,000 by the National Institute of Mental Health to study “Gendered Situated Vulnerabilities and Mental Health among Transgender Men in India.”

Maureen Tang, PhD, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering, was awarded a one-year, $157,219 grant from the USDA for her project “Preventing spread of the spotted lanternfly through automation and citizen science.” The project — which is a collaboration between Tang, Antonios Kontsos, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering, and the Academy of Natural Sciences — encourages smartphone users to take pictures of lanternfly egg clusters and send them to the team, who will teach computers using AI to recognize them.

Nicolas Alvarez, PhD, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering, is the recipient of a 2020-2021 Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) formula grant, “Peptide-Foam Delivery System for Gut Microbiome Engineering,” along with co-PI Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez of the Departments of Psychiatry and Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

Jordan Hyatt, PhD, associate professor of criminology and justice studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, received two grants: one to study vaccine hesitancy in incarcerated populations ($78,000 from Arnold Ventures) and the other to examine marijuana legalization policy in New Jersey ($81,000 from the Drug Policy Research Center).

Michael Lowe, PhD, professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the co-principal investigator and Drexel is the lead institution for a National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) research grant predicting weight regain following weight loss using physiological measures of appetite and energy expenditure. The $4.8 million grant started April 1 and will run through March 31, 2026. 

The College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, PhD, professor of nursing and associate dean for interprofessional research and development, and  Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, dean and executive director of the AgeWell Collaboratory, and College of Computing & Informatics’ Assistant Professor Jina Huh-Yoo, PhD, and associate professors Aleksandra Sarcevic, PhD, and Erjia Yan, PhD, received $25,000 for VoiceXML-based Conversational Agent for the Caregivers of Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Related Dementia Patients from Voice XML.


In a study by Stanford University, numerous researchers at Drexel and within the College of Engineering were found to be in the top 2% of their field for research impact. Notably, Distinguished University and Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor Yuri Gogotsi, PhD, ranks #20 worldwide for career impact in the field of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, and Distinguished Professor Michel Barsoum, PhD, #10 worldwide for Materials. Drexel had more authors on the 2019 citation impact subject matter rankings in Applied Physics and Environmental Sciences than any other university in Philadelphia and is tied for first in Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sciences, and Materials. 

College of Engineering LD Betz Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering Charles Haas, PhD, was elected to the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) for his contributions to quantitative microbial risk assessment for drinking water quality and public health. Membership in the NAE is one of the preeminent honors that a professional engineer can earn.

Charles Haas was also named a member of the External Advisory Panel (Residual Disinfection Exemptions) for the New Zealand Government.  This group will advise on the appropriateness of exempting drinking water utilities in New Zealand from the requirement to use residual disinfectants in their distribution system.

Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, Dana and David Dornsife Dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health and distinguished university professor of epidemiology, was declared the winner of the Society for Epidemiological Research’s Kenneth Rothman Career Accomplishment Award. This award is given to an outstanding scholar with extraordinary contributions to the field of epidemiology, or an individual whose work has had a profound impact on epidemiology and shifted the way epidemiology is practiced.

Caroline Schauer, PhD, Margaret C. Burns Chair in Engineering and associate dean of research and faculty affairs in the College of Engineering, was elected a fellow of the 2021 Class of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She was nominated for “outstanding contributions to natural polymer processing into nanoscale fibers and yarns for tissue engineering applications.” Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions given to a medical and biological engineer and comprises the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country.

“On the Widely Differing Effects of Free Trade Agreements: Lessons From Twenty Years of Trade Integration,” a paper by Yoto V. Yotov, PhD, professor of economics in the LeBow College of Business, was recognized as the most-cited article in the Journal of International Economics since 2018.

Yanliu Huang, PhD, associate professor of marketing in the LeBow College of Business, received the Best Reviewer Award from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, a top-ranked academic journal in marketing, for 2021.

Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (PA SNAP-Ed)/ EAT RIGHT PHILLY, led by Principal Investigator Jennifer Quinlan, PhD, professor of nutrition sciences and interim department chair of the Departments of Nutrition Sciences and Food and Hospitality Management, and Judy Ensslin, MS, program director, both in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, stated in their 2020 annual report they received $1.7 million total grant awards for 2019 to 2020, provided programming at 72 schools and charter schools, six community sites, gave 2,410 nutrition lessons with students and adults, had 13,059 students and adults participate in direct education, reached 38,023 participants through Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies and conducted 136,671 food tastings.