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2021-2022 Academic Year Annual Report

Message from the EVPRI

Drexel’s research and innovation ecosystem flourished during the 2021-2022 academic year. Aleister SaundersWe achieved near record highs in externally sponsored research spending and in licensing revenue. The impact of our research enterprise cannot be measured by numbers alone. Most importantly, our community is addressing societal problems to develop impactful solutions. The key to our successes has been and will always be the people who are engaged in these noble efforts. Research never stops at Drexel, and it is our amazing community that makes these metrics a reality. Congratulations to the students, staff, and faculty whose passion, dedication, and intellect are engaged in research across our campuses.

This annual report offers a glimpse into some of the highlights and activities of this past academic year for the Office of Research & Innovation.

Aleister Saunders' Signature
Aleister Saunders
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Research & Innovation


Facts & Figures

Proposals Submitted - 890, Grants Funded - 630, Research Expenditures - $166M, Number of Invention disclosures: 55, Number of license agreements signed: 4, Number of US patents issued: 31, Income from royalties, equity and other streams excluding reimbursed expenses: $2,026,452.55

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Investing in Research Resources & Tools

Scholar Support

Access to data:

  • ICPSR, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research  
    Drexel University has a subscription to Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR): a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. The data archive includes a broad range of disciplines, including political science, sociology, demography, economics, history, education, gerontology, criminal justice, public health, foreign policy, and law. It can be easily accessed from the Drexel University Libraries. ICPSR is a great tool to use for a quick and easy approach in finding research and data in virtually any field. 
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  • Philadelphia Federal Research Statistical Data Center
    FSRDCs are partnerships between federal statistical agencies and leading research institutions that allow qualified researchers to conduct research on a wide range of non- public micro-data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The datasets that you can find through FSRDCs are among the greatest and most extensive sources of statistical information in the U.S. for researchers in economics, business, demography, sociology, medicine, statistics, criminology, and many other disciplines. The link to the FSRDC’s website,  
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Data Management:

  • LabArchives
    Drexel University has an enterprise license for LabArchives electronic research notebook (ERN) services for use by its faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students in performing or learning research activities. The LabArchives will assist researchers in managing the results of research efforts, record and document research processes and procedures, and manage digital research data in ways that increase reproducibility, efficiency, collaboration, searchability, and security. 
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  • Labarchives Logo

    Labarchives Total Sessions
    Labarchives Total Activity
    Labarchives Total Users

Core Facilities:

The Office of Research and Innovation operates four University Core Facilities that help drive innovation and discovery in a variety of high-impact research areas and provide access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, expert technical staff and advanced laboratory space. These shared resources are available to all Drexel faculty and student researchers.

  • Investments in Advanced Research Instruments
    The Materials Characterization Core added two new state-of-the-art instruments this year with $2M in funding from the National Science Foundation. The Apreo 2S Scanning Electron Microscope, installed in July 2021 is designed for advanced in situ imaging and analysis at the nanoscale. In February 2023, a Zeiss Versa 620 3D X-ray Microscope was installed that allows non-destructive imaging of 3D internal structures of a range of samples from additive manufactured metals to dinosaur bones. In January 2022, with $250K from National Institutes of Health, the Cell Imaging Center added a Leica Stellaris 5 Scanning Confocal Microscope that helps researchers visualize and analyze specimens ranging from single cells and tissues to small organisms.
  • Discovering Shared Research Resources
    The ORI Core Facilities and Communications teams worked together to create a tool to connect researchers with shared research instrumentation across campus. The Instrument Search Tool allows keyword searches and filtering technical capabilities and location.  

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Leica Stellaris 5

Reducing Administrative Burden:

  • Office of Sponsored Programs
    The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is responsible for the central coordination and administrative oversight of Drexel University's sponsored projects. OSP reviews all proposal submissions and negotiates the awarded grants and contracts on behalf the University. In addition, OSP provides all non-financial post-award support. As part of the Office of Research & Innovation's clarity project, OSP is working to improve efficiencies in the proposal and award process as well as develop procedures and guidelines for the lifecycle of awards management, increase transparency on research administration, and develop clear communication to faculty and staff.
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  • New Electronic Research Administration System, DragonSPOT
    DragonSPOT, (Sponsored Programs Online Tracking) is a cloud-based, integrated research administration management system that was adopted to increase efficiency, security, and ease-of-use for the research community faculty, staff, and students. DragonSPOT will empower the research community by creating a more robust and efficient research support service, while providing various management levels in the community with better tools for developing and supporting their work.

    The top priority of the COEUS Replacement Project remains ensuring that the University’s growing R1 research enterprise is well supported with a robust software system. Work to date has provided extremely valuable information and has shaped ORI’s plan for continued operations review and improvements. This experience will be used to drive system decisions along with a comprehensive plan to include a rollout of transparent policies and procedures, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and training for all functions. In addition, ORI has added new, seasoned leaders who are engaged in operational evaluation of our research administration and compliance processes. It is important to note that the COEUS Replacement Project remains fully active and the original goal of replacing COEUS remains unchanged. We are moving ahead and look forward to re-engaging with our partners in this important work.
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    DragonSPOT Logo


Academic, industry and government are working together to solve societies most pressing current and future challenges. Through memberships and affiliations, we are facilitating collaborative research and development opportunities for faculty and students.

  • Manufacturing USA Institutes
    Drexel is a member of the Manufacturing USA® network focused on large scale public-private collaboration on technology, supply chain and workforce development in advanced manufacturing. The national network of diverse manufacturing institutes, sponsored by either the U.S. Department of Commerce, Defense or Energy, all have the same goal of accelerating U.S. manufacturing in each of their designated fields. Drexel is a member of 4 of the 16 institutes: AFFOA, MxD, ARM, and America Makes. Advanced Technology International is a consortium management group that is dedicated to solving the most challenging technological problems the world faces today. More specifically, Drexel partners MTEC, which is a biomedical technology consortium that focuses on preventing injuries and speeding up the development of life by changing medical technology.  
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  • Advanced Technology International (ATI)
    Focusing on small and emerging companies that have traditionally not worked with the federal government, Drexel joined the Advanced Technology International (ATI) consortia. As a member, our researchers have access to a host of potential collaborators, support to form technology development teams, and access to federal funding opportunities to support projects.
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Supporting & Recognizing Research Excellence

Research News

Research activities are heavily featured in Drexel News, highlights include:

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Internal Committees:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Committee

SSHRC scholars engage in activities that support different aspects of the research process, including writing retreats to support grant and publication writing, quarterly social events to support interdisciplinary networking, travel award scholarships to support dissemination, speaker series to spark dialogue and new research ideas, interdisciplinary meet-ups to support conversations across disciplines that lead to new collaborations, ‘how-to’ grant writing seminars to gain skills in grant submissions and participate in SIGS (special interest group) to learn new research methods in partnership with their Drexel colleagues.
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The Office of Research & Innovation financially supports a variety of seed funding opportunity that stimulate and support the development of new research projects, the expansion of existing projects, as well as recognition of outstanding research performance. Below is a list of approaches we utilize.
  • Areas of Excellence and Opportunity (AEO) Pilot Projects
    The Office of Research & Innovation champions innovative and strategic collaborations through seed funding support. This year’s seed funding up to $50,000 was for interdisciplinary research that aligns with two AEOs, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing and Computing, AI & Cyber Security Frontiers.
  • Community Driven Research Day
    In its 13th year and hosted at Drexel in January 2023, Community-Driven Research Day (CDRD) is a program that encourages collaboration between researchers and community-based organizations (CBOs)/community groups that have research questions they are interested in answering about how we can advance health and equity for their community members. This event is jointly sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Drexel University. Researchers team with CBOs to support interdisciplinary, community-based participatory research in health and each project selected receives a $10,000 pilot grant.

Community Driven Research Day Community Driven Research Day


As a means of supporting the ongoing development of our research, scholarship, and creative activities, as well as recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and professional service, the Office of Research & Innovation and the Office of Faculty Advancement manage numerous awards for research, scholarship, creativity, teaching, and professional service. Over $289,000 was distributed in total award money for Academic Year '21-'22.

2023 Faculty Awards 2023 Faculty Awards
2023 Faculty Awards 2023 Faculty Awards




Provost Awards
Outstanding Interdisciplinary Early Career Productivity John Medaglia
College of Arts and Sciences
Provost Award for Outstanding Early-Career Scholarly Achievement
Jacqueline Barker
College of Medicine
Mid-Career Scholarly Achievement
Lin Han
School of Biomedical Engineering
Significance of Scholarship
Rebecca Clothey
College of Arts and Sciences
2022 Provost Awards for Outstanding Scholarly Productivity
Peter Lewin
School of Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Bridge Funding
The Impact of Green Rehabilitation on Indoor Air Quality in Low Income Housing
Simi Hoque
College of Engineering
The Dual Role of the Board of Directors on the Valuation and Ecosystem Potency of Tech Startups
Daniel Tzabbar
LeBow College of Business
Summer Research Awards
Here to Stay: Residential Stability and the Power of Imagined Place in the American Rust Belt Amanda McMillan Lequieu
College of Arts and Sciences
The Ancient Sopara Port Project: Trade and Faiths (1st - 11th  c. CE)
Pia Brancaccio
Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
Embedding-based Alignment for the Materials Science Ontologies in the MatPortal Repository
Yuan An
College of Computing & Informatics
Innovative Research on Combining Bronze, Glass, and Screenprinting
Jen Blazina
Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
The Science of Burnout in the Health Professions
Kelly Underman
College of Arts and Sciences
Love at First Touch: How Swiping vs. Typing Changes Online Dating Decision-Making
YanLiu Huang
LeBow College of Business
Economic Insecurity in Employed Adults: Nature, Causes, and Consequences
Barrie Litzky
Close School of Entrepreneurship
Imperial Vistas: Domestic Visions of Race and Nation at the 1893 World’s Fair
Linda Kim
Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
Towards Enabling Affective Awareness in Free Open Source Software (FOSS) Projects
Preetha Chatterjee
College of Computing & Informatics
Training-through-Research for Community College of Philadelphia Students Jeremiah Scepaniak
College of Arts and Sciences
Freddie Reisman Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Awards
Inefficient Pricing and Price Variance in US Hospitals
Daniel Albert
LeBow College of Business
Permeable Hospitals, Transnational Communities: A Global Hospital Ethnography in Maine
Susan Bell
College of Arts and Sciences
Identifying the Therapeutic Underpinnings of Practicing Indigenous and Traditional Art Forms
Girija Kaimal
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Chasing Shadows: Combating Corruption with Creativity in Vietnam
Kristy Kelly
School of Education
100 People Exhibition Publication and Outreach
Mark Stockton
Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
The Ring: Giving Voice to the Viewer in Documentary
Benjamin Kalina
Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
Scholarly Materials & Research Awards
Microscope Camera with Low Light Fluorescence and Color Bright Field Capabilities
Yinghui Zhong
School of Biomedical Engineering
Acquisition of a LICOR 850-1 CO2/H2O Monitor
Ezra Wood
College of Arts and Sciences
Tele-exercise for Physical Activity Engagement in Those Aging with Spinal Cord Injury
Margaret Finley
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Enhancing Big Data Analytics in Disease Risk Prediction and Biomarker Discovery
Fengqing Zhang
College of Arts and Sciences
Replacement of Biology Common Departmental Equipment
Mary Gonder
College of Arts and Sciences

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Discovery & Innovation


ic@3401 is a community of current and future startup founders in the University City area of Philadelphia and is co-managed by Drexel Applied Innovation and University City Science Center. With 17,500 square feet of co-working space, ic@3401 is home to over 120 members and 40 startups. Since 2016, ic@3401 member startups have raised over $80M in investment capital. ic@3401 is also the host of the NSF I-Corps regional classes at Drexel in collaboration with the Upstate New York I-Corps Node. Five ic@3401 startups have been awarded various SBIR awards totaling $3.77M (NSF, DOD, EPA, DHHS and NIH - Phase I and II).  
ic@3401 is also the home of Drexel Law's Entrepreneurial Law Clinic which helps startup founding teams with entity formations, founder's agreements, employment agreements and basic contracts. 
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ic3 Banner Classroom Classroom

NSF I-Corps at Drexel

NSF I-Corps is a two-stage entrepreneurial development program for faculty, postdocs and graduate students to explore how their innovation can make an impact in the real world. Drexel Applied Innovation works with NSF I-Corps national leadership to host the first stage of the program at ic@3401 and top performing teams are then invited to the NSF I-Corps Teams program where each team receives $50,000 to further their customer discovery journeys. NSF I-Corps is a great commercialization pathway, as approximately 50% of the NSF I-Corps graduates are awarded NSF SBIR Phase I grants up to $230,000 compared to 7-8% win-rate for the general applicant pool. Drexel entrepreneurial community has excelled with NSF I-Corps since 2018; Drexel ranked #22 out of 284 institutions in number of teams accepted to the NSF I-Corps Teams program and #2 out of the entire set of institutions not currently funded by the National Science Foundation. 
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Drexel Applied Innovation: Entrepreneurial Development Programs

  • The Innovation Fund

    At the start of Spring term 2023, Drexel Applied Innovation, in collaboration with the Close School of Entrepreneurship, officially launched the inaugural cohort of the highly anticipated Innovation Fund. Running in tandem with an undergraduate course titled The Venture Capital Experience (ENTP T380), co-instructors Charles Sacco and Robert Morier will guide students into the due diligence process of four startups competing for $150,000. Students will be interacting directly with startups throughout the process, as well as presenting their findings directly to an Investment Advisory Committee, comprised of eleven industry professionals and Drexel alumni.
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  • The Raynier Seed Fund

    Set to enter its third season in Summer 2023, the Raynier Seed Fund, powered by a generous gift from the Raynier Institute & Foundation and administered by Drexel Applied Innovation and the University City Science Center, is committed to bridging the capital gap for minority founders in Philadelphia. Beyond providing “first check” investments of $25,000, the Raynier Seed Fund has cultivated relationships with many Philadelphia community partners to provide a meaningful post-investment support network to founders.
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Drexel’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship is the nation’s first dedicated and Independent school of entrepreneurship to offer degrees. Nationally ranked and accredited, the Close School provides all Drexel students with the opportunity to learn and practice entrepreneurship. Inside the classroom, students learn how to develop their entrepreneurial mindset through an innovative curriculum taught by faculty with deep entrepreneurial experience. Outside the classroom, Drexel students develop their entrepreneurial skills by launching new businesses and incubating them in Drexel’s student startup lab - the Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.
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Drexel Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program

This program was created to explore and support new innovations to advance patient care. Coulter provides funding, mentorship and project management to up-and-coming translational projects that are determined to shift these technologies into clinical application by commercialization. The Drexel-Coulter partnership’s primary goal is to establish heath care solutions for needs that are currently being unmet to progress patient heath care.
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ORI Team & Partners

Sponsored Programs
The Office of Sponsored Programs is responsible for reviewing and approving proposals for submission to external sponsors.

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The Office of Research & Innovation is devoted to advocating for the highest standards of ethics, integrity and applicable laws for all research endeavors.

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Applied Innovation
Drexel Applied Innovation provides technology licensing, industry sponsored research support, entrepreneurial training and venture creation services to support the impact endeavors of Drexel faculty, postdocs and graduate students.

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Welcoming New ORI Team Members

Drexel’s R-1 Carnegie Classification as a “Very High Research Activity” institution was first attained in 2018 and reaffirmed in 2022, with the University improving on the majority of classification metrics. Since 2014 our externally sponsored research expenditures have increased by more than 40 percent, and in the last fiscal year alone, our research community achieved the highest levels of sponsored research expenditures to date, representing a 9 percent increase over the prior year. Sustaining this activity requires a robust research support team and the Office of Research & Innovation is thrilled to introduce new team members who will help to support our continued growth. Many of these new colleagues are filling roles that have been vacant for some time, while a few roles have been strategically added to support growth and the new strategic plan. Please join in welcoming our new colleagues to the following teams: 

Drexel Applied Innovation team: 

Ravi Raghani, Licensing Manager

Ravi joined the Intellectual Property & Agreements team within Drexel Applied Innovation in August 2022 and is reporting to Senior Associate Vice Provost for IP & Agreements Robert McGrath. He is working with Drexel innovators to identify new inventions, review them for commercial and intellectual property potential, market technologies, and negotiate licenses with commercial partners.

Tanvi Muni, Licensing Manager

In October 2022, Tanvi became a member of the Intellectual Property & Agreements team in Drexel Applied Innovation, reporting to Senior Associate Vice Provost for IP & Agreements Robert McGrath. Tanvi’s efforts will focus on the commercialization of new inventions developed by Drexel innovators, securing intellectual property protection, communicating to potential partners, and negotiating licensing agreements.

Lillian Rukenstein, Entrepreneurial Development Program Manager

Lillie joined Drexel Applied Innovation in January 2023 to collaborate with department heads, faculty, and personnel across the University as we strengthen our partnerships and engagements, support to the entrepreneurial community, and develop our capital initiatives.

Research Compliance & Regulatory Affairs team: 

Cassandra Myers, Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs

Having joined Drexel in October 2022, Cassie leads the Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs team and oversees human research protections, animal welfare, research integrity, export controls, research security, and research conflicts of interests.

Lacee Harris, Executive Director, Research Compliance

Lacee joined ORI in September 2022 and oversees the Drexel’s Research Compliance team, which manages export control, research conflicts of interest, research security, and research integrity.

John Roberts, Executive Director, Human Research Protections

John joined Drexel in September 2022 to lead the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP). This team provides guidance on the responsible conduct of human research to Drexel's IRB members, faculty, and their research assistants. HRP guidance documents and forms are critical to ensuring compliance with local, and federal regulations.

Liz Hann, Director of Animal Welfare

Liz joined Drexel in August 2022 to oversee the Animal Welfare team, which supports the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). She oversees the research community’s IACUC protocol submission and review process, and provides training and post-approval monitoring.

Laura Smith, IRB Analyst

Laura joined the IRB Team in September 2022, bringing nine years of compliance experience in Institutional Review Board at the University of Missouri, as well as years of experience working in accounting. Laura provides compliance expertise to assist and support investigators and the IRB.

Heidi Mitchel, IRB Analyst

Heidi joined the IRB Team in February 2023, bringing 10 years of compliance experience in Institutional Review Board at the University of Missouri. Heidi provides compliance expertise to assist and support investigators and the IRB.

Sherri Reneski, IRB Coordinator

Sherri joined the Human Research Protections team in August 2022, bringing over seven years of business-to-business management and service delivery experience for high-profile national and international accounts. Sherri provides administrative assistance for preparing and review applications, supporting data management and reporting functions.

Research Development team: 

Sarah Schwartz, Research Design Manager

Sarah joined the Research Development team in October 2022 as Graphic Designer. She brings more than 8 years of educational media product and materials development including websites, videos, graphics, poster events, press briefs and writing copy that utilize visual literacy and hierarchy tools. Most recently, Sarah served as project manager for Drexel’s participation in the AAAS 2023 Annual meeting.

Charlie Fraioli, Research Intelligence Analyst

Charlie joined the Research Development team in October 2022. He is a former Senior Standards Management Analyst who conducted research, data analysis, and stakeholder interviews to inform minimum standards for B Corp Certification. Charlie has experience as a Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant in Spreadsheet Modeling for Management and Economics.

Cecelia Macera, Proposal Development Manager

Celia is the newest member of the Research Development. She brings experience as a grant writing and project consultant for a nationwide grants firm. Celia is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Her past roles include Assistant Director of Development and Major Gifts, and Director of Development, both in the non-profit social and educational services sectors.

Jennifer Gregory, Research Events Manager

Jennifer joined the Research Development team in January 2023. As an accomplished senior administrator and operations director in secondary education, she brings experience in planning and managing complex in person, virtual and hybrid events, and programs for multiple stakeholders. Prior this role, Jennifer was a secondary school English teacher.

Sponsored Programs team: 

Sarah Saxton, Executive Director, Sponsored Programs

Sarah joined ORI in June 2022 to provide strategic and operational oversight of our Grants and Contracts teams. Working closely with ORI colleagues and academic/administrative stakeholders, she supports the research community in their efforts to secure, manage, and execute extramurally funded sponsored programs.

Sue Elkins, Grants Administrator

Sue joined the Office of Sponsored Programs’ Grants team in October 2022, bringing over 10 years of research administration experience in both higher education and hospital settings.

Preet Patel, Shared Service Coordinator

Preet joined ORI in April 2022 and provides departmental support for pre and post-award research activities as part of the RBSS unit.

Ekin Garzon, Contract Administrator

Ekin joined the Sponsored Programs team in March 2023 and provides support for the administration and processing of contracts and agreements for sponsored research projects across the University. Ekin drafts, reviews, and negotiates various types of contracts, cooperative agreements, sponsored research agreements and sub-recipient agreements with private, industry, and federal partners on behalf of the University.

Finance and Administration team

Jeannine Reed-Heil, Finance Coordinator

Jeannine joined ORI in January 2023, bringing over 15 years of financial experience. Jeannine provides administrative aid to business and financial operations in support of the activities and functions of the Office of Research.

One Drexel:Dragon Statue

Drexel’s diverse committees, offices and colleges work together to support and guide researchers of all levels and expertise. During any step of the research process, our committed partners will be able to assist and advise the researcher on any obstacle they may face. These partners are the University Research Council, Research Administration Advisory Committee (RAAC), University Advisory Committee (UACs), Senate Committee on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (SCRSCA), Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), Drexel Libraries, Drexel Solutions Institutes, Graduate College, Office of Global Engagement, and the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Partners in Research: University Research Council

Kenneth A. Barbee

Kenneth A. Barbee

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Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

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Jen Katz-Buonincontro

Jen Katz-Buonincontro

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Evangelia Chrysikou

Evangelia Chrysikou

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RoseAnn DeMaria Gellilli

Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili

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Rajneesh Suri

Elea Feit

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Amy L. Landers

Amy L. Landers

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Diana Robins

Diana Robins

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Brisa N. Sánchez

Brisa N. Sánchez

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Caroline Schauer

Caroline Schauer

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Kenny Simansky

Kenny Simansky

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Neville Vakharia

Neville Vakharia

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Roland Wall

Roland Wall

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Research Administration Advisory Committee

Article XIII, University Advisory Committees

Senate Committee on Research Scholarship & Creative Activity

Environmental Health & Safety

Drexel University Libraries

Solutions Institute

Graduate College

Office of Global Engagement

Office of Faculty Awards

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