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This year’s CAREER award recipients, left to right, top to bottom: Jennifer Brisson, Samantha Daley, Ehsan Hoque, Gonzalo Mateos, Patrick Oakes, Krishnan Padmanabhan, Dustin Trail, and Andrew White.

A record year for CAREER recipients

Eight University of Rochester researchers are among the latest recipients of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious recognition for junior faculty members: the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.

This is the largest number of CAREER awards in one year for the University.

“This is a measure of quality with respect to the young faculty we are recruiting here at the University of Rochester,” says Rob Clark, University provost and senior vice president for research. “This highly competitive program serves to launch the careers of young researchers, and with eight awards this year, we are at an all-time high.”

The recipients are:

Jennifer Brisson, associate professor of biology, who will use genetic mapping, genomics, gene knockdown, pharmaceutical manipulations, and development observations to study the molecular mechanisms and genes that regulate how environmental cues influence the way that organisms develop. She will focus specifically on pea aphids, which include winged and wing-less variants. Read more about Brisson’s NSF CAREER award here.

Samantha Daley, assistant professor of education, who will analyze national data, conduct a mixed-methods study of 80 middle school students, and work with experienced science educators to better understand how the motivational beliefs of middle and high school students with learning disabilities influence whether they will pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields. Read more about Daley’s NSF CAREER award here.

Ehsan Hoque, assistant professor of computer science and the Asaro-Biggar (’92) Family Fellow in Data Science, who will explore developing a virtual assistant to help groups conduct meetings, providing live or post-meeting feedback that helps participants stay on topic, take part equally, and listen closely to one another, while also generating analytics about the process. Read more about Hoque’s NSF CAREER award here.

Gonzalo Mateos, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who will investigate how to use information available from graph signals that represent measurements from distributed network processes, to learn the underlying graph topology. This would advance our understanding of the inherent complexities of strongly coupled systems such as the brain. Read more about Mateos’s NSF CAREER award here.

Patrick Oakes, assistant professor of physics and biology, who will investigate the mechanisms behind the ways cells manipulate their own material properties. This multi-disciplinary work in physics, biology, and engineering would help unearth novel design principles that could be used to develop new engineering materials and to understand how some diseases affect cell behavior. Read more about Oakes’s NF CAREER award here.

Krishnan Padmanabhan, assistant professor of neuroscience, who will use neural tracers, ontogenetic technology, and electrical recordings in the brain to understand how internal state, learning, and memory influence the neurons that shape the perception of smell. “The same cookie may smell and taste differently, depending on our emotional state, our experiences, and our memories,” he says. By interrogating a recently characterized connection between the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb, he aims to understand how perception is reshaped by experience. Read more  about Padmanabhan’s NSF CAREER award here.

Dustin Trail, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, who will study how changes in oxygen pressure affect the chemistry of minerals found in the magmas and fluids inside earth. This would advance our understanding about the conditions and environments that may have prevailed on early earth, including how natural minerals form and why volcanoes erupt. Read more about Trail’s NSF CAREER award here.

Andrew White, assistant professor of chemical engineering, who will combine state-of-the-art computer simulations with a novel way to use experimental data as an extra input, to model and predict how various peptides, including one associated with Alzheimer’s disease, self assemble into macroscopic structures. This could have applications not only in treating disease, but in materials science as well. Read more about White’s NSF CAREER award here.

Arts, Sciences & Engineering and the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have offered programs each of the last three years to provide junior faculty with tips on how to apply for CAREER awards. AS&E offered a CAREER workshop in 2016 and covered the awards in its Young Investigator workshops each of the last two years. Faculty can contact Debra Haring, assistant dean for grants and contracts, to learn more.

The Hajim school has organized a multi-session summer “boot camp” each of the last three years focusing specifically on helping junior faculty apply for CAREER awards. This year 15 junior faculty and eight previous Hajim School CAREER recipients participated. Faculty can contact Cynthia Gary, assistant dean for grants and contracts, to learn more.

NSF CAREER awards provide five years of funding to help lay the foundation for a faculty member’s future research. Innovative ways to integrate research with the education of students is a key part of the CAREER program, which recognizes “junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Click here to also read comments about the benefits of receiving a CAREER award, from three previous recipients.


Deadline to enter Steadman postdoc competition is Monday

The Steadman Family Postdoctoral Associate Prize in Interdisciplinary Research will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, October 5 in Goergen 101 (Sloan Auditorium) as part of Meliora Weekend.

The competition is open to AS&E and School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) postdocs, who present their research in a 5-minute oral presentation, using a single, static slide,

The winner will receive $1,000, with a total of $2,500 being awarded.  Audience members will determine the people’s choice award of $250.

Postdoc application requirements and complete award details are here.

Applications should be submitted to janice.vanopdorp@rochester.edu by Monday, September 17, 2018.

Persons interested in attending the competition should register here.   Enter “Steadman” in the search line.


CTSI supports study of access to healthy food in Beechwood community

Community development experts Joyce Duckles, an associate professor in human development at the Warner School, and George Moses, executive director of North East Area Development Inc., have been awarded a new Community-Based Participatory Research Pipeline-to-Pilot award from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Their collaborative research project “Growing a Healthy Community: Families Co-Constructing Community Spaces and Sustainable Access to Fresh Food” will address the disparities in access to healthy foods and health outcomes in Rochester’s Beechwood community — a neighborhood with 28 corner stores and one small supermarket, where many residents report eating less than one vegetable a day.

A diverse and intergenerational research team will examine the impacts of local community practices and initiatives that support food well-being and the active co-construction of community gardens and gathering spaces through the Freedom Market and the Beechwood Greenhouse Collaborative and across the Beechwood community.

Using a mixed methods research approach that includes surveys, interviews, bi-weekly team meetings and events, the study will have recruited roughly 120 participants, primarily Beechwood community stakeholders and residents, over the course of 12 months.


Bridging Fellow Alison Frontier to present at 'work-in-progress' seminar

Alison Frontier, professor of chemistry, will present “Molecules of Power. How Has Nature’s Chemistry Impacted History, Myth and Storytelling?”  at noon, September 26, 2nd floor Rush Rhees Library, conference room D as part of the Humanities Center Jesse L. Rosenberger Work-in-Progress Seminar series.

Colleagues in the sciences are particularly urged to attend this seminar by the Center’s Bridging Fellow.  To receive a copy of the paper in advance, contact Jennie.Gilardoni@rochester.edu.  RSVPs to Gilardoni for lunch are requested but not required.

The Bridging Fellowship program is a University-wide effort to support members of the University faculties in interdisciplinary study. Specifically, the program releases members from departmental obligations for one semester to allow them to move to another part of the University for the purpose of learning aspects of another discipline.

The distinctive feature of Bridging Fellowships is that they are for study in an area that is peripheral to the fellow’s central professional concern, and they permit the acquisition of knowledge and methods in a different field. These fellowships are thus distinct from academic leaves, and holding a Bridging Fellowship does not affect subsequent consideration for such leaves.


Humanities Center seeks ideas for next year's theme

The academic year has just begun, and yet it’s already time for faculty affiliates of the Humanities Center to suggest possible themes for next year, says Joan Shelley Rubin, the center’s Ani & Mark Gabrellian Director.

“’Translation’ is an idea that has come up in the past, as is ‘Community,’” Rubin notes in her latest Weekly Update. “Another proposal from a colleague is ‘Futures.’  As you consider the options, remember that the theme governs the Center’s lecture series and dictates the fellows’ focus (and thus the emphasis in the Rosenberger Work-in-Progress seminar).   We’ll want to keep it broad so that it can accommodate projects from all of our core disciplines.”

Click here to forward a suggestion by September 21.  “Then—in the most democratic thing we do!—all the faculty affiliates will have a chance to vote,” Rubin says.


Libby to direct SMD's PhD, postdoctoral, and master's degree programs

Richard T. Libby, professor of ophthalmology and of biomedical genetics at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and a member of the University’s Center for Visual Science, has been named senior associate dean for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs (GEPA), pending approval of the University Board of Trustees.

Libby will direct the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Ph.D., postdoctoral, and master’s degree programs. He succeeds Edith M. Lord, who served a decade in the role and is shifting her focus to microbiology and immunology research.

An innovative researcher in the neurobiology of glaucoma, Libby arrived in Rochester in 2006 after postdoctoral and fellowship experiences that enlightened him on the power of model genetics systems in the study of eye disease. Years spent training at the Medical Research Council’s Institute for Hearing Research in Nottingham, England, and the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, formed the foundation for his current laboratory, which is focused on understanding the cell signaling pathways that lead to vision loss in glaucoma.

Libby is director of the Cell Biology of Disease Graduate Program, has served on numerous academic committees integral to research activities and graduate education, and is a respected mentor and teacher. He has published, as author or co-author, more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific articles and numerous reviews, book chapters and commentaries. He has presented internationally on a range of topics in eye and vision research.

Read more here.


Technology Development Fund seeks applications

The fall 2018 round of the University’s Technology Development Fund has started.

Awards are up to $100,000 and are open to all faculty, staff, and students. Eligible projects propose the development of a technology to a commercial endpoint.

A submitted invention disclosure to UR Ventures is required for an application.

Pre-proposals are due October 15 and should be submitted to omar.bakht@rochester.edu. More information can be found at Rochester.edu/tdf.


Applications open for Research Development Fund

The 2018 World Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund application process is open.

The annual competitive fund aims to bring together researchers to undertake innovative, high quality, sustainable research that addresses global challenges.

Each member institution is permitted to lead two proposals per year but can collaborate on as many as desired.

If you are interested in leading a proposal effort, contact the University’s WUN coordinator, Ruth Levenkron. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Friday, October 26.


Funding available to address HPV-related cancers in HIV-infected individuals

URMC’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) has announced a funding opportunity to facilitate the design, conduct and completion of clinical trials aimed at preventing HPV-related cancers in HIV-infected individuals.

The National Cancer Institute will support a network of international collaborative sites conducting prevention clinical trials in the Latin American and Caribbean region via a U54 Partnership Centers mechanism.

Each proposed U54 Partnership Center must be based on a collaboration between a research institution in the United States (as the applicant institution) and partnering institution(s) in low- and middle-income countries in the region.

Submit letters of intent by Monday, October 15. Apply by Thursday, November 15 by 5 p.m.

Additional Information


Course provides additional resources for mid-late career faculty

“Career Engagement, Revitalization, and Transition: A Curriculum for Mid-Late Career Academic Faculty” is designed to help associate professors and professors identify additional resources and skills as they advance and transition through the phases of their academic careers.

The course, co-sponsored by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and The Office for Faculty Development, is free for URMC faculty and is directed by Ronnie Guillet and Janine Shapiro.

CME provided.

The course will be held 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30, location TBD.

Register by Monday, October 8. For additional information, contact Faculty Development, Ronnie Guillet, or Janine Shapiro.


How CTSI can help recruit participants for research studies

The University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) can help recruit participants for research studies by providing access to registries, helping develop flyers and other marketing tools, providing access to a CTSI public website to post your study, providing access to i2b2, and providing consultations during grant development or after a study opens.

Visit the Recruitment and Retention website or email researchhelp@urmc.rochester.edu for more information.


Mark your calendar

Today:  Workshop on basic components of writing successful proposals for humanities grants and fellowships, plus a writing session so that you can kick-start your proposals. 10 to 11:30 a.m., Rush Rhees Library Instruction Room B.  The session will end with an opportunity for immediate feedback on your proposal drafts and ideas. Geared toward graduate students in the humanities, but open to all interested grad students. Bring a laptop, and RSVP here.

Sept. 17: Deadline to apply for the Falling Walls competition. Winner of the Rochester competition, to be held October 2 in the Feldman Ballroom, will receive $500 and a trip to the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, November 7 to 9. Presenters will each have three minutes and three slides to summarize their groundbreaking ideas. Click here to register. Contact Adele Coelho, faculty outreach coordinator, at adele.coelho@rochester.edu for additional information.

Sept. 20: Department of Surgery Research Symposium. Justin Dimick, the George D. Zuidema Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan, will present “Innovative Approaches for Improving Surgical Quality” from 7 to 8 a.m. in the Class of ’62 Auditorium. Following the grand rounds will be an abstract competition (8 to 9:15 a.m.), a poster competition (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.), and research fair (9:30 a.m. to noon).

Sept. 21: Deadline for faculty affiliates of the Humanities Center to submit ideas for next year’s theme to Joan Shelley Rubin, the center’s Ani & Mark Gabrellian Director.

Sept. 24: Deadline to apply for Novel Biostatistical and Epidemiologic Methods awards to overcome specific analytic limitations and significantly enhance the validity and accuracy, scope, or speed of clinical or translational research. A maximum of $35,000 will be awarded for a one-year period. View the request for applications (RFA).

Sept. 26: “Molecules of Power. How Has Nature’s Chemistry Impacted History, Myth and Storytelling?” presented by Alison Frontier, professor of chemistry.  Noon, 2nd floor Rush Rhees Library, conference room D.  Jesse L. Rosenberger Work-in-Progress Seminar series. To receive a copy of the paper in advance, contact Jennie.Gilardoni@rochester.edu.  RSVPs to Gilardoni for lunch are requested but not required.

Sept. 27: Workshop on Developmental Programming of Disease, focusing on current understanding of mechanisms that underlie early life programming. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Class of ’62 Auditorium. Offered by the Department of Environmental Medicine and the University’s Environmental Health Science Center. Free and open to all. Registration is requested for ordering refreshments. Read more here.

Sept. 27: 8th annual Dr. Bernard Guyer Lecture in Public Health: “A Vaccine Meets a Strategy: Eliminating Epidemic Meningitis From Sub-Saharan Africa.” Presented by Marc LaForce, who directed the Meningitis Vaccine Project from 2001 to 2012. Noon. Helen Wood Hall Auditorium.

Sept. 30: Deadline for Medical Center tenure track faculty and their chairpersons to apply for up to $75,000 in bridge funding during a hiatus in research support. All questions and applications should be directed to Anne Reed. For more information, click here.

Oct. 1: Letters of intent due by 5 p.m. to apply for the KL2 Career Development program of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, designed to support the early research career development of clinical and translational scientists via two years of funding. Click here to view the full RFA.

Oct. 5: Steadman Family Postdoctoral Associate Prize in Interdisciplinary Research, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Goergen 101 (Sloan Auditorium).  Open to AS&E and School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) postdocs, who present their research in a 5-minute oral presentation, using a single, static slide. Postdocs must apply here by Monday, Sept. 17. Persons interested in attending the competition should register here.   Enter “Steadman” in the search line.

Oct. 8: Deadline to register for “Career Engagement, Revitalization, and Transition: A Curriculum for Mid-Late Career Academic Faculty,” a course designed to help associate professors and professors identify additional resources and skills as they advance and transition through the phases of their academic careers. The course will be held 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30, location TBD. For additional information, contact Faculty Development, Ronnie Guillet, or Janine Shapiro.

Oct. 11: Pediatric Research Celebration Day. Lecture by Paul A. Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases; an expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology; and co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine. Noon to 1 p.m., Class of ’62 Auditorium. Scientific poster session 11 a.m.  to noon and 1 to 2 p.m., Flaum Atrium.

Oct. 15: Deadline to submit letters of intent to apply for Center for AIDS Research funding to facilitate the design, conduct and completion of clinical trials aimed at preventing HPV-related cancers in HIV-infected individuals. Click here for more information.

Oct. 15: Pre-proposals due for University Technology Development Fund awards of up to $100,000 for development of a technology to a commercial endpoint. Open to all faculty, staff, and students.  Submit to omar.bakht@rochester.edu. More information can be found at Rochester.edu/tdf.

Oct. 15: Deadline to apply for AS&E PumpPrimer II awards for innovative and high-risk research projects. Click here for guidelines. Faculty in Arts & Sciences should refer questions to debra.haring@rochester.edu and those in engineering to cindy.gary@rochester.edu. PumpPrimer I and Research Mobility funds are also available and applications are accepted any time.

Oct. 26: Deadline to apply for the 2018 World Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund. If you are interested in leading a proposal effort, contact the University’s WUN coordinator, Ruth Levenkron.

Oct. 29: “The Future is Today: Transforming the Care of Childhood Onset Chronic Health Conditions.” UR Complex Care Center’s Second Annual Conference, co-sponsored by UR CTSI’s UNYTE Translational Research Network. 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Class of ’62 Auditorium. Click here to register.



Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. You can see back issues of Research Connections on the Newsletters website.



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Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.