The University of New Orleans has awarded the 2015 UNO Research Recognition Prizes to three faculty members. Matthew Tarr, professor of chemistry, won the Research Excellence Prize; Elliott Beaton, assistant professor of psychology, won the Early Career Research Prize; and Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor of computer science, won the Competitive Funding Prize.
Tarr, who joined the UNO faculty in 1995, researches several different areas: nanostructure materials for energy conversion, environmental chemistry and photochemistry, and the use of nanomaterials for biomarker detection or site-directed drug delivery. A member of the American Chemical Society, he has served as the principal investigator for $4 million in external funding and worked as key personnel on more than $11 million in sponsored programs. From 2011-14, Tarr ran a high school summer research program at UNO for 131 high school students and 52 high school teachers.
The Research Excellence Prize is given to faculty members who have achieved the rank of associate professor or professor and who have an outstanding and sustained record of creative and scholarly activities. Tarr will receive a $10,000 grant for winning the prize.
Beaton, who joined the psychology department as an assistant professor in 2012, directs the Stress, Cognition and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Laboratory. He and his research team study how stress affects brain development in children at an ultra-high risk for adult mental illness, including anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. He has been awarded more than $910,000 in active grant funding from agencies including the National Institute of Mental Health, the Louisiana Board of Regents and the University of Maryland. Beaton has participated in several outreach events since joining UNO, such as the Girl Scouts STEM Extravaganza and the New Orleans Zephyrs STEM Education Day.
The Early Career Research Prize is awarded to faculty members who hold the rank of assistant professor and who have distinguished themselves in their creative and scholarly activities. Beaton will receive a $7,500 grant.
Abdelguerfi, who serves as the chair of the computer science department, joined UNO in 1989. During the last fiscal year, he had more than $840,000 in additional funding added to his portfolio of existing grants. On a grant from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Abdelguerfi is developing a geospatial information system for fish tagging, artificial fishing reefs and oyster maps. He has recently received research funding from the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center.
The Competitive Funding Prize goes to the UNO researcher who has achieved the highest amount of external funding awards in the past fiscal year. Abdelguerfi will receive a $10,000 grant.