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Faculty Highlights: Recent Awards and Grants

April 09, 2024

People in white lab coats looking into microscopes.

Last term, Drexel University faculty members 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

Thomas Heverin, PhD, associate teaching professor in the College of Computing & Informatics, was named an inventor in a patent with the U.S. Navy tiled “Cyber Vulnerability Assessment Tool Threat Heuristic.” The patent encompasses the design of newly developed tools, known as the Cyber Vulnerability Assessment Tool (CVAST) and CVAST Threat Assessment Heuristic, which help to assess how vulnerable Cyber Physical Systems (CPSs) are to cybersecurity risks. CPSs are systems that combine both digital and physical elements, like ship engineering systems, smart grids, manufacturing plants and more. 

Gordon Richards, PhD, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Keri Heuer, a PhD student, in the Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, received the NASA FINESST (Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology) award in the amount of $150,000 for their project “Investigating Chaos and Complexity in the Accretion Modes of Stellar and Supermassive Black Holes.”

Joshua Agar, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering, obtained funding from National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program for “Track 2 Development of a Platform for Accessible Data-Intensive Science and Engineering.” The project will develop an innovative platform to automatically curate, search, efficiently compute on and publicly share research data to advance reproducible science and data-intensive research across scientific disciplines.

Steven May, PhD, professor and department head of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, obtained funding from the Department of Energy for “Controlling magnetism via charge-modifications in quantum material heterostructures.” The project utilizes neutron scattering to understand and control magnetism in promising new quantum material heterostructures by modifying charge density.

Michele Kutzler, PhD, associate dean for faculty and professor in the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Medicine, received a $139,735, one-year grant from Merck & Co. for her project “Adenosine-Deaminase-1 Adjuvant Improves Durability and Breadth of Anti-HIV Antibodies in a Vaccine Formulation.”

Antonio Sanz-Clemente, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and physiology, and Gabriele Romano, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology, both in the College of Medicine, received $125,000 awards from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust. Sanz-Clemente’s project is “Modulation of Extrasynaptic NMDA Receptor Content as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy in Stroke,” and Romano’s is “Boosting the T-cell Response Against Melanoma in PLWH [People Living With HIV].” 

The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements & Population Health Equity in the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health, received $240,228 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of their Illuminating and Addressing Healthcare’s Role in Perpetuating Structural Racism project in 2023. This is a three-year initiative led by principal investigator Sharrelle Barber, ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology and director of The Ubuntu Center.

Jan M. Eberth, PhD, professor and chair of health management and policy in the Dornsife School of Public Health, received a $764,000 award from the American Cancer Society to assess equity in shared decision making, utilization and outcomes of lung cancer screening in 2023. 

Daniel Coslett, assistant professor of architecture in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, received a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society for archival research on French-colonial churches in North Africa, to be conducted later this year in Rome.

Valerie Ifill, assistant professor of dance, and Raja Schaar, associate professor of product design, in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, are co-principal investigators along with Michelle Rogers, PhD, associate professor of information science in the College of Computing & Informatics, and Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD, associate professor and department chair of policy, organization and leadership in the School of Education, on “STEAMing through Dance: A Multimodal Exploration of Black Girls’ Intersectional Identities and STEAM Literacies within a Transdisciplinary STEAM Counterspace.” The project was recently awarded a grant of $341,606 by the Spencer Foundation.

Joyce Pittman, PhD, professor emerita in the School of Education, received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the Global Teach Connect initiative. Global Teach Connect is a partnership between the School of Education and the University of Pennsylvania to strengthen the capacity and performance of American education in foreign languages, international and area studies, teacher preparation and international business education.

Michael Haslip, PhD, associate professor of early childhood education in the School of Education, received a grant from the Caplan Foundation to support his project “Developing and Validating the Qualitative Characteristics of Children’s Play Assessment System.”

Joshua Lequieu, PhD, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation in support of his project “Chemically specific polymer models with field-theoretic simulations.”

Mark E. Schafer, PhD, research professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, and colleagues received a one-year, $454,049 NIH R21 grant for the project “Continuous Cardiac Output Monitoring with a Central Venous Catheter Ultrasound Sensor.”

Major Gifts, Honors and Recognition 

“Work It Out Wombats,” a children’s program produced by Kareem Edouard, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Education, received the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award at the Youth Media Awards presented by the American Library Association. The program was also nominated for the Outstanding Children’s Programming Award at the GLAAD Media Awards.

Lin Han, PhD, professor, and Kara Spiller, PhD, URBN Professor of Biomedical Innovation, both in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, were elected to the 2024 Class of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biological engineers, comprised of the top two percent of engineers in these fields.

Abieyuwa Aghayere, PhD, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, was named a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This prestigious recognition is granted to only three percent of ASCE members who have made celebrated contributions and developed creative solutions that change lives around the world.

Michelle McHugh, assistant teaching professor and program director of the television & media management graduate program in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was named to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Board of Directors.

Aleksandra Sarcevic, PhD, professor of information science in the College of Computing & Informatics, was named a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM senior members are selected for their demonstrated performance through technical leadership and technical or professional contributions.

Chuck Sacco, vice dean of education affairs in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, was awarded the Philly Startup Leaders Ecosystem Innovators award on behalf of the school’s Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship, which supports student entrepreneurs at Drexel University. This honor recognizes the Institute's positive impact on the Philly tech ecosystem.

Nic John Ramos, PhD, assistant professor of history and Africana studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, was recognized as a 2024 Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Michel W. Barsoum, PhD, Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, has been named a 2023 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow. Election as an Academy Fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. 

Dave DeMatteo, JD, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of law in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, was appointed editor-in-chief of Law and Human Behavior, the leading interdisciplinary journal in psychology and law.

Arthur Frank, MD, professor of environmental and occupational health in the Dornsife School of Public Health, was named a nominee of the 2024 John P. Wyatt Environment and Health Award by the University of Kentucky. This award is given by the University of Kentucky for outstanding accomplishments in environmental health. 

Alex Ezeh, PhD, Dornsife Professor of Global Health in the Dornsife School of Public Health, served as co-chair for World Health Organization’s technical consultation on the burden of malaria in urban areas and co-chair for a Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing.

Amy Landers, JD, associate dean for faculty research, director of the intellectual property law program and professor of law in the Kline School of Law, was elected chair of the AALS IP Section.

Susan Brooks, JD, professor of law in the Kline School of Law, has been appointed by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve a three-year term as one of two social scientists on the Council for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Eamon Gallagher, JD, director of the center for law and transformational technology, director of the business and entrepreneurial law program and director of the entrepreneurial law clinic in the Kline School of Law, was awarded the Exceptional Community Member Award by Philly Startup Leaders. The award recognized people in the community who work behind the scenes to help the ecosystem grow.

Banu Onaral, PhD, H. H. Sun Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems and senior adviser to the president for global innovation partnerships, received the 2023 Health Institutes of Turkey Special Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the fields of functional brain imaging, and her pivotal role in driving major national and global initiatives forward.

Elea Feit, PhD, associate professor of marketing and assistant dean for research in the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business, was named an associate editor of the journal Marketing Science.