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Faculty Highlights: Recent Awards and Grants

June 16, 2023

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

Lauren D’Innocenzo, PhD, associate professor of management in the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business, received a $1.07 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) Foundational Science Research Unit for “Understanding Dynamic Team Composition: Exploring Within and Between Team Member Changes.” This grant will support field and lab research in LeBow’s Behavioral Lab and PhD student funding for the three-year period.

Co-investigators (CIs) Catherine Quay, assistant clinical professor in undergraduate nursing, and Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, director of Research Labs, both from the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and principal investigator (PI) Juanjuan He, associate professor of product design in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, obtained $30,000 in grant funding via the Venture Well Grant. This is a three-year grant that will support the ongoing development of an interdisciplinary course that brings Drexel students and underrepresented older adults together to create innovative aging solutions. The course combines aging, participatory design and entrepreneurial concepts to create an intergenerational learning experience that culminates with an exhibit that features the collaborative work of the older adults and Drexel students.

Susan Bell, PhD, professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded funding from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium Pilot Program for her project “Estamos Aqui: Eschuchenos, We are Here: Hear Us,” a qualitative study exploring the experiences of Latina cervical cancer survivors and the community health workers who support them.

Cecilia Mondaini, PhD, assistant professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant. The goal of her project is to advance rigorous understanding of complex physical systems involving a large number of degrees of freedom, with a focus on fluid dynamic models. The project also includes educational activities that will enhance the proposed research and promote learning and professional development opportunities for students.

Jin Wen, PhD, professor, associate dean for faculty advancement and interim associate dean for research in the College of Engineering, along with her research group, received an NSF award as part of an international collaboration among the U.S., Sweden and Denmark for their project “PIRE: Building Decarbonization via AI-empowered District Heat Pump Systems.” This group will collaborate with a multidisciplinary team (including researchers from engineering, information science and social science) on innovating artificial intelligence (AI) techniques with an understanding of human need and behaviors to enable an efficient, human-centered, resilient and socially justifiable operation of district- and community-scale heat pump systems that promote a regional scale adoption of building decarbonization.    

College of Engineering's Steven May, PhD, professor and department head of materials science and engineering; Megan Creighton, PhD, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering; and Yong-Jie Hu, PhD, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, have received a two-year NSF-FuSe (Future of Semiconductors) grant to develop research capabilities and collaborations centered around germanium oxide-based semiconductors that are of interest for applications such as power electronics and infrared detection. Together with faculty from the University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Washington State University and University of Texas at El Paso, they will address fundamental scientific and engineering challenges associated with material design, manufacturing, property control and device integration, all of which are required to move germanium oxide semiconductors from academic laboratories into society-benefiting technologies such as electric vehicles and autonomous systems. Concurrent with research activities, the project pilots workforce development initiatives to help bolster the United States’ technical workforce in the semiconductor sector.

Mauricio Reginato, PhD, professor and interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in the College of Medicine, has been awarded a 2023 Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition grant of $100,000 for the project “Role of ACSS2 in Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis Survival.”

Alex Quistberg, PhD, assistant research professor in the Urban Health Collaborative in the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health, and a multidisciplinary team were awarded a grant to link urban health outcomes to climate change and contribute to artificial intelligence risk models. This work will be funded by a grant from the Lacuna Fund, an organization that supports the creation of data sets from low- and middle-income countries to contribute to machine learning models that better represent traditionally underserved populations. 

Through the U.S. EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, Jane Clougherty, ScD, professor of environmental and occupational health in the Dornsife School of Public Health, was awarded funding to lead research on the cumulative health impacts at the intersection of climate change, environmental justice and vulnerable populations/life stages.

Annalisa Na, PhD, DPT, assistant research professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received a $10,000 American Physical Therapy Association grant for clinical practice guideline development on pain management in people with dementia. 

Vera Lee, EdD, clinical professor in the School of Education, and Jennifer Quinlan, PhD, professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their project titled, “Immersive Experiential Education of Urban Educators in Food and Agricultural Sciences.” The project will last from 2023–2026.

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts has awarded Brea M. Heidelberg, PhD, associate professor of entertainment & arts management in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, a multi-year grant to provide organizational evaluation and development expertise to BIPOC-led and serving cultural organizations. In this role, Heidelberg will provide annual organizational capacity assessments, develop and lead professional development workshops, and provide one-on-one consultation to organization leaders in over 30 organizations throughout Pennsylvania.

Giacomo Vivanti, PhD, associate professor and the leader of the Early Detection and Intervention research program at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, was awarded an Autism Science Foundation grant. 

Major Gifts, Honors and Recognition

Kapil R. Dandekar, PhD, E. Warren Colehower Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, was inducted into the 2023 Class of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows, comprised of the top two percent in the field, is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. Dandekar was elected for his “outstanding contributions leveraging wireless systems to advance the development of wearable biomedical sensors.” 

Amir Farnam, PhD, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to Belgium for 2023–2024. He will study the creation of nature-inspired, thermal-responsive vascularization systems in building materials for effective indoor thermoregulation. He will work with scholars involved in the multinational European Marie Curie project (SMARTINCS) where Gent University (UGent) in Belgium is the lead. 

Simi Hoque, PhD, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy for 2023–2024, where she has proposed to study urban systems and sustainable urban development and help to further promote the Politecnico di Milano-Drexel exchange program that was spearheaded by College of Engineering Professor Emerita Gena Ellis, PhD.

College of Engineering Dean Sharon L. Walker, PhD, was honored with the Mark A. Stevens Distinguished Alumni Award by the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC).

Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor, was awarded the Jan Czochralski Award from the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS).

Charles B. Cairns, MD, the Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean of the College of Medicine and senior vice president of health affairs at Drexel, was named to City & State Pennsylvania’s 2023 Health Care Power 100 list. The article cited the College of Medicine’s advancements under Cairns’ leadership, including the opening of the Health Sciences Building in University City, new medical and clinical campuses, and a 30 percent increase in research funding.

LeBow College of Business Dean and R. John Chapel Jr. Dean’s Chair Vibhas Madan, PhD, was named to City & State Pennsylvania’s 2023 Higher Education Power 100. The Higher Education Power 100 recognizes leaders and changemakers in all aspects of higher education, including institutions, government officials, nonprofits, business and beyond.

With new 100K Strong in the Americas Innovation funding from Colombia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MinCiencias), CAF, Development Bank of Latin America and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the Dornsife School of Public Health and the Universidad de los Andes will work together to increase opportunities for student exchange and participation in global practicums focused on important issues in urban health, health equity and resiliency. Dornsife School of Public Health Dana and David Dornsife Dean and Distinguished University Professor Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, joined the Board as a Distinguished Expert for the Health Effects Institute (HEI). HEI is an independent research organization that provides high-quality, impartial and relevant science on the health effects of air pollution.

Kareem Edouard, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Education, successfully launched a new children’s program on PBS titled “Work It Out Wombats.” The animated show is geared towards preschool children and helps develop problem-solving skills. Kareem is a producer on the show.

Alphonso McClendon, associate professor of design & merchandising, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has contributed images and a vignette, “Black by Popular Demand at HBCUs,” to “Fresh Fly Fabulous: 50 Years of Hip Hop Style,” authored by Elizabeth Way and Elena Romero. This publication is an accompaniment to the “Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style” exhibition previously on display at The Museum at FIT. McClendon contributed items, including a pair of graffiti art denim jeans from 1989, to the exhibition.

Veronica Carey, PhD, assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion and associate clinical professor in counseling and family therapy in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, has earned the designation of Certified Diversity Executive, a five-year designation of competence in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging after an intensive 187-item examination. Carey will apply the information learned from the trainings and resources, like instituting a culture of agility, C-suite culture, and demographic shifts in organizational strategy, to continue the elevation of the college toward equity and inclusion.

Sudeshna Chatterjee, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received two awards at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, California. She received the Best Abstract for Early Career Scientist Award from the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy and the Best Platform Presentation Award from the Balance & Falls SIG of the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 

The Drexel Psychological Services Center, housed in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, received the Clinic Research Award from the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC). The submission was authored by Kirk Heilbrun, PhD, professor of psychology, and Jen Schwartz, PhD, teaching professor of psychology, and students Kellie Wiltsie, Claire Lankford, Sarah Fishel, Ariana Swenson and Danika Charles.

David Cohen, JD, professor of law, Kline School of Law, testified virtually before the Vermont and Washington state legislatures about abortion shield laws.

Research co-authored by Andre Kurmann, PhD, professor of economics in the School of Economics in the LeBow College of Business, was cited in the 2023 Economic Report of the President, published by the Council of Economic Advisers, a component of the Executive Office of the President in the Biden-Harris administration. 

LeBow College of Business Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Marketing Elea Feit, PhD, received a 2022 Marketing Science Service Award as an editorial board member of Marketing Science who has consistently gone above and beyond to provide high quality and timely input into the review process.

Nicole Iannarone, JD, assistant professor of law in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, was elected to the Association of American Law Schools' Section on Securities Regulation.

Nancy D. Spector, MD, senior vice dean for faculty, professor of pediatrics, executive director of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program and the Executive Leadership in Health Care program, and executive director of the Lynn Yeakel Institute for Women's Health and Leadership, was named 2023 Elizabeth Blackwell Awardee by American Medical Women's Association. A leader in academic medicine, Spector was honored for her significant contributions in gender equity, mentorship, sponsorship and advancing women leaders to the highest levels in medicine.

Eliezer Fich, Trustee Professor of Finance in the LeBow College of Business, was one of 56 new research members added to the European Corporate Governance Institute.