Eight Syracuse University faculty members have received CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development program during the 2021-22 academic year. This is the largest number of the prestigious NSF awards earned in a single year.
Three of the awardees are faculty are members of the BioInspired Institute. Zhao Qin teaches in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Davoud Mozhdehi, in the Department of Chemistry; and Minghao Rostami, in the Department of Mathematics. Mozhdehi and Rostami have received funds from BioInspired as part of its Seed Grant Program.
The highly competitive NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.
“Syracuse University takes great pride in the National Science Foundation’s presentation of this high number of early-career awards,” says Gretchen Ritter, vice chancellor, provost and chief academic officer. “These prestigious grants recognize the value of current research and the long-term professional potential of our faculty. We regard them as innovative researchers and tremendous assets to their departments and schools and congratulate them. We look forward to watching their research careers continue to flourish as they educate the next generation of scientists and innovators.”
Qin’s project, “Multiscale Mechanics of Mycelium for Lightweight, Strong and Sustainable Composites” seeks to reveal the fundamental principles that govern the multiscale mechanics of mycelium-based composites and integrate research into an educational program. Mycelium, produced during mushroom growth as the main body of fungi, plays an essential role in altering soil chemistry and mechanics, enabling a suitable living environment for different plant species.
For “Post-translationally Lipidated Biopolymers as Multiphasic All-Aqueous Emulsions,” Mozhdehi is researching the replication of water-based emulsions to reduce and perhaps eliminate the need for oil-based surfactants in the manufacture of many common products. He says aqueous emulsion technology could potentially replace traditional oil-based emulsions in food processing, cosmetics, biosensing and delivery of pharmaceuticals. The research involves trying to recreate the water-in-water emulsions human cells sometimes temporarily develop to prolong the time that two water-based layers can stay separated.
Rostami’s research, “Towards Harnessing the Motility of Microorganisms: Fast Algorithms, Data-Driven Models and 3D Interactive Visual Computing,” examines the “swimming” processes of micro-organisms (such as bacteria, sperm and algae) to harness their motility systems. Her specialty in computational fluid dynamics will help with the development of data-driven models and computationally efficient algorithms to simulate the movements of microswimmers. She plans to produce a 3D interactive visual computing system as a tool to study the hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms.
–by Diane Stirling