Monday, January 29, 2018

Faculty and Students Awarded Nearly $300K in Research Prizes and Grants During Celebration of Research and Creative Pursuits


The University of New Orleans has awarded nearly $300,000 in research grants and awards to 21 faculty members and 20 undergraduate students.

During a Jan. 24 awards presentation hosted by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs that underscored the power of research and the opportunities that exist for UNO scholars at all levels, leaders highlighted the interesting work and accomplishments that are happening on all areas of campus.

“We really are a determined community of scholars and researchers,” President John Nicklow said before the winners were named. “We’re innovating every day, creating new knowledge and outcomes in service of a better world.”

Matt Tarr, vice president for research and economic development, told those gathered that simply being nominated for these awards is an honor that places those in the running among the University’s top researchers. Representatives from the University of New Orleans Research Council, which reviews nominees, presented the following prizes. 

Ryan Gray, assistant professor of anthropology, won the Early Career Research & Scholarship Award. The one-year $7,500 prize is open to assistant professors who have passed their third-year review and who have distinguished themselves in their creative and scholarly activities.

Gray has secured several grants to fund his research and has acquired external funding to update a lab. He consistently publishes and presents at conferences and is under contract for his second book in addition to having several other book-length works in progress. Gray recently worked on a collaborative effort with the National WWII Museum, the Department of Defense and the University of Innsbruck that resulted in the excavation of a crashed plane from World War II and the hunt for the remains of its Tuskegee Airman pilot.

Gunter Bischof, professor of history and philosophy and director of Center Austria, won the $10,000 Creativity, Research & Scholarship Award. The prize is available to a faculty member who has achieved the rank of associate professor or professor and who has distinguished themselves in their creative and scholarly activities.

Bischof has led Center Austria since its inception 20 years ago. Since 2013 alone, he has produced seven refereed edited books, four edited volumes that are non-refereed and a dozen book chapters. He has been awarded numerous research grants and helped raise funding for an endowed professorship and an endowed chair. He has earned honors from numerous institutions, including the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and serves on many boards.

Uttam Chakravarty, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, won the $7,500 Creativity, Research & Scholarship Award with a Research Focus, which is available to associate professors who have passed their third-year review and have distinguished themselves in their creative and scholarly activities.

Chakravarty joined UNO in 2012 and has been successful in securing external research funding, receiving more than $1 million dollars as a principal investigator and co-investigator. He has published 16 referred journal articles and 25 conference papers and currently supervises four Ph.D. students and three master’s students. At the time of his nomination, his work had been cited 287 times according to Google Scholar.

In addition to these faculty awards, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs presented the following internal grants:

Interdisciplinary Grants

Two projects were awarded up to $17,500 per principal investigator for up to three principal investigators. Considered seed money, this award requires that the project result in a proposal to an outside sponsor.

The first went to Elliot Beaton, assistant professor of psychology; Vassil Roussev, professor of computer science and director of the Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance; and Shaikh Arifuzzaman, assistant professor of computer science. Their project is titled “High-resolution human connectome network analysis using high speed computing.”

The second grant was awarded to Tamjidul Hoque, assistant professor of computer science, and Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. Their project is called “Use of unmanned aircraft systems to monitor Louisiana coastal wetland loss and fault-induced relative sea level changes.”

Stimulating Competitive Research Awards (SCoRE)

There were six winners of the SCoRE awards, which are worth up to $15,000 and are considered seed money for a project that must result in a proposal to an outside agency: Steven Ware, assistant professor of computer science, for “Fast, Strong-Story BDI Planning for Intelligent Virtual Narratives;” Irfan Ahmed, assistant professor of computer science, for “Toward Programmable Logic Controller Forensics;” Minhaz Zibran, assistant professor of computer science, for “Automatic Detection of Emotions in Valence and Arousal Spaces in Software Engineering Text;” Uttam Chakravarty, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for “An Investigation of a Hybrid Energy Harvesting System;” Damon Smith, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for “Flexible and High-Strength Nanocomposites with Antibacterial Properties for Additive Manufacturing Biomedical Devices;” and John Wiley, director of the Advanced Materials Research Institute and research professor in chemistry, for “Directed Construction of Metal Organic Frameworks within Layered Perovskite Hosts.”

Creative Endeavor Opportunity Awards

Seven faculty members received Creative Endeavor Opportunity awards, which are designed to increase research and scholarly activity and are worth up to $7,500. The awards went to Brian Seeger, associate professor of music, who is working on an original jazz album; Richard Goodman, professor of English, who is creating an anthology of environmental writing about the Gulf South; Dong-Jun (D.J.) Min, assistant professor of management and marketing, for a project examining the unintended consequences that can result from hypertargeting through social media marketing; Laszlo Fulop, associate professor of film and theatre, who is working on a play script; Yotam Haber, assistant professor of music, for the University of New Orleans Opera Lab; Laura Medina, assistant professor of film and theatre, for the creation of a short film; and Tara Lambeth, assistant professor of research of planning and urban development, who is developing a course that deals with green infrastructure.

Leveraging External Expertise Program (LEEP)

This new internal grant supports visits to the University of New Orleans by external scholars, researchers or artists, and comes with a $2,500 cap. The winner was John Wiley, director of AMRI, who will use the funds for a one-day symposium entitled “Advanced Materials for a New Age.”

Privateer Undergraduate Research and Scholarly UNO Experience (PURSUE)

Twenty students—10 underclassmen and 10 upperclassmen—were named winners of the Privateer Undergraduate Research and Scholarly UNO Experience prize, an award that seeks to employ undergraduates in research related to their fields of study under the mentorship of faculty.

The student winners this year receive $1,500 each in the form a student worker position with the faculty mentor. The winners and their faculty mentors are:

Sydni Cherise Austin (Juliette Ioup, professor of physics)

Catalina Correa Contreras (Erik Hansen, assistant professor of film and theatre)

Kristopher Hoffman (Hamp Overton, professor of film and theatre)

Tanee Janusz (Martin O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences)

Daniel Jones (D. Ryan Gray, assistant professor of anthropology)

Chloe Krake (Donald Zimmerman, professor of health care management and marketing)

Lee Lagarde (Stephen Ware, assistant professor of computer science)

Claire Melancon (Nicola Anthony, professor of biological sciences)

Julia Robe (Mary Clancy, associate professor of biological sciences)

Kourtney Weaver (Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences)

Shisir Acharya (Ting Wang, professor of mechanical engineering)

Kelli Allen (Elliot Beaton, assistant professor of psychology)

Joel Andrepont (Tamjidul Hoque, assistant professor of computer science)

Alana Bradley (Christopher Harshaw, assistant professor of psychology)

Prerak Chapagain (Weilie Zhou, professor of materials science)

Jacob Frick (Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences)

Srilasya Garigipaty (Malay Ghose Hajra, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering)

Mina Hibino (Matthew Tarr, professor of chemistry and vice president for research and economic development)

Jessica Lanzkowsky (Christopher Harshaw, assistant professor of psychology)

Ashraya Upadhyaya (Guillermo Rincon, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering)

For more information about the opportunities available to support research, creativity and scholarly pursuits, contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.