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Two Psychologists Among Notre Dame’s Eight Faculty to Receive NSF Early Career Awards

Author: William G. Gilroy

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recognized eight University of Notre Dame faculty from the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering, and Science for their excellence in research by selecting them to participate in the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER).

The CAREER program, which was established by the NSF in 1995, recognizes and supports outstanding junior faculty who exhibit a commitment to stimulating research while also providing educational opportunities for students. It is the NSF’s most prestigious award given to junior faculty.

Although Notre Dame has a long-standing history of winning CAREER awards, with at least two won every year for the past five years, 2014 was a record year for the University. Speaking about the awards, Vice President for Research Robert Bernhard said, “The unprecedented success of our junior faculty for these highly prestigious and competitive early career awards is a testament to Notre Dame’s hiring success and of the talent and hard work of these faculty members. The departments and faculty members are to be commended, especially as only a few of the country’s most prestigious research universities had eight or more awardees this year.”

The full list of CAREER awardees is as follows:

Diogo Bolster

  • Diogo Bolster, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences, received a CAREER Award for a project titled, “Connecting the Scales: Local to Global Scales of Mixing in Heterogeneous Porous Media.” The goal of his work is to develop a more complete picture of mixing, a fundamental process that is critical to understanding how to accurately predict the mobility of contaminants in the environment and to design better pollution remediation and prevention strategies. Bolster joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2010.

Ying Cheng

  • Ying Cheng, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and a fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, won a CAREER Award for a project titled, “Cognitive Diagnostic Adaptive Testing for AP Statistics.” The research objective of her project is to determine the extent that computerized adaptive testing improves the learning and engagement of students, using statistics from Advanced Placement-level classes as an example. Cheng joined the faculty in 2008.

Jason Hicks

  • Jason Hicks joined Notre Dame in 2010 and is an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. His CAREER Award is for a project titled, “Toward Unprecedented Selectivities in C-O Bond Cleavage Reactions Using Fe-Based Bimetallic Catalysts,” which involves a thorough study of the stability, reactivity and selectivity of the iron-based bimetallic catalysts that he developed at Notre Dame.

Amanda Hummon

  • Amanda Hummon, Huisking Foundation Inc. Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received a CAREER Award for a project titled, “Three Region nLC-MS/MS Analysis: A Novel and Rapid Approach to Evaluate Molecular Penetration.” Her project is seeking a better fundamental understanding of how molecular species penetrate cell masses. Hummon joined the faculty in 2009.

Jill Lany

  • Jill Lany, assistant professor of psychology, received her CAREER Award for a project titled, “Discovering the Underpinnings of Statistical Language Learning in Infants.” The proposed research will examine how developments in infants’ ability to encode and remember auditory and visual information are related to language learning ability and whether these abilities predict when infants will reach language milestones. An important goal is to promote early identification of infants at risk for language delays. Lany joined Notre Dame in 2010.

Gabor Szekelyhidi

  • Gabor Szekelyhidi is an associate professor of mathematics who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2011. He received his CAREER Award for a project titled, “Canonical Metrics and Stability in Complex Geometry.” In his research project, Szekelyhidi proposes to study the Yau-Tian-Donaldson conjecture, which relates the existence of special, preferred shapes of complex manifolds to certain algebraic properties of them.

Ashley P. Thrall

  • Ashley P. Thrall, John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, was awarded a CAREER Award for a project titled, “Transitional Bridging: From Rapidly Deployable Disaster Relief to Permanent Infrastructure Solutions.” Her research project will build a framework for bridges that can be rapidly deployed following natural or manmade hazards and then transformed to support long-term, sustainable development. Thrall, who directs the Kinetic Structures Laboratory, which is a facility devoted to investigating moving structures with applications for the military, the developing world and disaster relief, joined the faculty in 2011.

Franklin Tao

  • Franklin Tao, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received a CAREER Award for a project titled, “Catalysis on Singly Dispersed Bimetallic Catalytic Sites.” His research focuses on the study of singly dispersed bimetallic sites and aims to gain a fundamental understanding of the unique catalytic performance of such sites and to integrate research on catalysis and energy science into an educational program. Tao joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2010.

Although often populated by scientists and engineers, the NSF CAREER Program is open to faculty in the social sciences as well. Associate Dean for the Social Sciences and Research Mark Schurr said, “It is huge news for Notre Dame that this year two of its psychologists have won this highly coveted and prestigious award. From anthropology to economics, political science to sociology, the CAREER Award is a fantastic grant, and I would like to encourage all of our junior social science faculty to apply.”

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