Faculty Highlights: Recent Awards and Grants

Drexel professors were recognized for their academic and professional achievements, like three College of Engineering faculty who received National Science Foundation funding for a project to increase STEM degree completion among low-income, high-achieving students. 
Faculty in white lab coats working in a lab with microscopes.

Last term, Drexel University professors were recognized for their scholarly research and prolific academic and professional contributions. This update offers a snapshot of activity courtesy of the Office of the Provost. 

Sponsored Research

Yuanfang Cai, PhD, professor of computer science in the College of Computing & Informatics, received a grant from the National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Community Research Infrastructure program for a project titled “A Software Refactoring Community Infrastructure.” Cai will create and disseminate a repository of software refactoring-related artifacts and online tools to enable refactoring as a service that is sufficient to support rigorous empirical studies and experiments with software quality issues across a broad community of researchers, educators, software engineers and STEM researchers. 

Jeffrey Popyack, PhD, professor emeritus of computer science, and Tammy Pirmann, PhD, assistant teaching professor of computer science, both of the College of Computing & Informatics, are the recipients of a grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Computer Science for All program. Their project, titled “Expanding Inclusive CS Education through the Jumpstarting Philadelphia CSforAll Researcher Practitioner Partnership,” aims to bring equitable, inclusive and high-quality computer science (CS) educators in Philadelphia high schools.

Genevieve Dion (PI), director of the Center for Functional Fabrics at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, in collaboration with Sorin Siegler (Co-I) , PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics at the College of Engineering, and Clare Milner (Co-I), PhD, associate professor and director of the PhD Program in Rehabilitation Sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received two-year approval for continued funding of the project Technical Textiles for Wearable Sensors: Advanced 3D Knitting of Fabric-Based Assistive Devices" for $2 million. 

Kathleen Powell, PhD, assistant research professor of criminology "and justice studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a $544,000 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation for a project that will examine the impact of the legalization and decriminalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, and specifically how some of the potential racial inequalities in prior enforcement hindered the social development of young adults. 

Seena Ajit, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and physiology in the College of Medicine, received two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. She was awarded a three-year $2,018,200 grant for “Immune Modulating Therapies to Treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome,” and a five-year $425,097 grant for “Small Extracellular Vesicles Mediated Signaling and Pain.” 

D.S. Nicholas, associate professor of design research in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was awarded a $15,000 grant from the AIA Upjohn Research Initiative, a highly competitive program that supports applied research projects that enhance the value of design and professional practice knowledge. Her project, “Age-Friendly University and Community Creative Spaces,” is a collaborative effort to demonstrate how the University can further its commitment to being an Age-Friendly University and develop a model for implementing age-friendly improvements that align with the University’s commitment to civic engagement.

Antonio Martinez-Molina, PhD, associate professor of architecture in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and principal investigator Franco Montalto, PhD, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, are part of a research team that was awarded $200,000 by the William Penn Foundation for a 24-month project titled "Academic Network to Support Urban Water Resilience."

College of Engineering faculty Ahmad Najafi, PhD, PC Chou Assistant Professor in mechanical engineering and mechanics; Jennifer S. Atchison, PhD, assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics; and Gail Rosen, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received NSF funding for their project “Awards to Increase Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Diversity” (AIME). The project is a collaborative initiative aimed at increasing STEM degree completion of low-income, high-achieving students, funding four years of undergraduate education for 23 mechanical engineering and mechanics students and electrical and computer engineering students. 

Joshua Agar, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering, received a grant from the NSF for the project “CRISPS: Cell-Centric Recursive Image Similarity Projection Searching.” The award funds the development of CRISPS, a full-stack software solution designed to facilitate creative inquiry into unpublished microscopy.

Yury Gogotsi, PhD, director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute and Distinguished University and Bach Professor in the College of Engineering, received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory. This grant awarded Gogotsi and several other researchers $580,000 spread over three years for their research into renewable energy and low-carbon manufacturing to cut emissions and improve existing technologies.

Joel Maxcy, PhD, department head and professor of sport business and general business in the LeBow College of Business, received an $86,000 grant from Erasmus+ to study sustainable sport management (total grant amount $390,000).

Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD, associate professor in the School of Education, received three grants last term. The first, from the NSF, focuses on a housing shortage for marginalized Black communities in West Philadelphia. The second, also from the NSF, will study the experiences of Black women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Medicine) positions. The third project, supported by AmeriCorps, will examine the potential impact of arts programming to strengthen civic engagement and civic infrastructure and promote community-driven innovation in West Philadelphia.

Aroutis Foster, PhD, professor and associate dean of academic affairs and graduate studies in the School of Education, received a grant from the NSF to conduct a pilot study that focuses on the construction building trades to identify the barriers associated with technology adoption and the resistance to new technology within the trades.

Debra Ruben, academic associate dean and associate professor, and Ulrike Altenmueller-Lewis, Dr.-Ing., department head and associate professor, both from the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, were awarded $351,000 by the William Penn Foundation to support “Playful Learning by Design.” A collaboration with Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN), the project aims to develop a university-level course on playful learning for architects and designers that will be available to higher education instructors across the country. 

Major Gifts, Honors & Recognition

Pamela Geller, PhD, associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a Challenge.gov award from the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS)’s Office on Women’s Health in partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the HHS initiative “Racial Equity in Postpartum Care.” Geller and collaborators have partnered with Benten Technologies to create an interactive mobile health application called MommaConnect based on the Drexel Psychological Services Center’s Mother Baby Connections program, of which she is co-founder and co-director. The Challenge.gov award will allow for further expansion of MommaConnect to support Black women more directly. 

Kate Morse, PhD, assistant dean for experiential learning and innovation and associate clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was named a 2022 fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. The organization selected 250 distinguished nurse leaders from around the country to be inducted into the 2022 Class of Fellows.

Barbara Schindler, MD, vice dean emerita of educational and academic affairs and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in the College of Medicine, was chosen by the Mayor’s Commission on Addiction & Recovery to receive a “Making A Difference” Award. The award recognizes those who have been working unselfishly to assist individuals challenged by substance use disorders and those at risk. 

Annette Gadegbeku, MD, associate professor and associate dean of community health in the College of Medicine, has been named to the national advisory board of Two in One: HIV + COVID Screening & Testing Model, a program of George Washington University that aims to improve the capacity of primary care practitioners to routinize culturally responsive and nonjudgmental communication about HIV and COVID screening and testing with patients who identify as BIPOC and LGBTQIA+.  

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, research professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention in the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health, is the recipient of the Philip T. James Award by the World Obesity Federation. This award acknowledges outstanding achievement in the fields of obesity surveillance, prevention and management.

Leah Schinasi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded a Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellowship. The program supports junior faculty with demonstrated expertise and commitment towards addressing complex environmental health problems in under-resourced communities.

Afshin Daryoush, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, has earned the designation of Life Fellow from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Life designation is given to those of age 65 or older whose age plus years of membership exceed 100 years.  

George Tsetsekos, PhD, George B. Francis Professor and dean emeritus in the LeBow College of Business, received the Global Citizen Award from the Global Interdependence Center at the 40th Annual Monetary and Trade Conference. 

Math Corps, a summer program for middle and high school students in Philadelphia run by School of Education faculty and students, was recognized as a leader in STEM by AL DÍA. The award recognizes the School for playing a key role in fostering diversity in underrepresented Black and Latinx communities. The program is overseen by Valerie Klein, PhD, associate clinical professor, and Jason Silverman, PhD, professor, both of the School of Education.

Kathy Geller, PhD, program director of the PhD in Human and Organizational Development Programs at Fielding University (and retired Drexel associate clinical professor); Joy Phillips, PhD, clinical professor in the School of Education; and Kristine Lewis Grant, PhD, clinical professor in the School of Education, were recognized by the Academy of Management, Management Education and Development Division with the Best Symposium Award. Their paper, "On Becoming a Qualitative Researcher: Transformative Learning Pedagogy in an Online Research Course," was one of three papers presented as part of the symposium titled "Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching: Realigning Teaching Approaches to a VUCA World."

Ebony White, PhD, assistant clinical professor of marriage and family therapy in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was awarded the “Outstanding Service and Advocacy to the Profession of Counseling” award from the North Atlantic Region of the American Counseling Association.

Karen Nulton, PhD, teaching professor of English and director of Writing Assessment in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a Fulbright Specialist to Costa Rica during the winter term. Nulton will work and consult with the Asociación Conservacionista de Monteverde (Monteverde Conservation League) in the areas of work-integrated learning, narrative research techniques and connecting with international research partners.

Yoto Yotov, PhD, professor of economics at the School of Economics in the LeBow College of Business, was invited to join the Bulgarian Council for Economic Analysis.

Elea Feit, PhD, associate dean for research and associate professor of marketing in the LeBow College of Business, was named a 2023 MSI Scholar by the Marketing Science Institute of the Advertising Research Foundation.