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Fourteen University of South Florida faculty members receive Outstanding Research Achievement Awards

October 24, 2014

Award recognizes outstanding scholarship and research during 2013

TAMPA, Fla. – Fourteen faculty members from the University of South Florida have been awarded the USF Faculty Outstanding Research Achievement Award for “faculty who have received truly exceptional recognition of their research with preeminent awards, grants, or publications” in 2013.

USF President Judy Genshaft and Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for Research & Innovation, presented the awards at a luncheon held Oct. 27, 2014, to honor university faculty in recognition of their scholarship and research accomplishments.

The annual awards are part of an open competition judged by the USF System Research Council to highlight professional acclaim that USF faculty have received from their national and international peers during the previous calendar year.

The award recipients were:

Matthias Batzill, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physics, College of Arts and Sciences

In his lab, Batzill investigates condensed matter at the atomic scale with the goal of understanding how the properties of surfaces can be tuned to perform new or improved functions. Dr. Batzill has received a prestigious TUM-IAS (Technische Universitat Munchen - Institute for Advanced Study) Hans Fischer Fellowship. The Fellowship is awarded to "Outstanding early-career international scientists, who intend to explore innovative, high-risk topics in their scientific research areas together with a TUM Research Group". This program establishes collaborative research between the Nanophysics and Surface Science Laboratory at USF Physics (directed by Batzill) and the Technical University of Munich in Germany, of which thirteen Nobel Laureates are closely affiliated.

Colin Heydt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences

Heydt’s research focuses on the history of ethics and political philosophy. In January 2013, Dr. Heydt was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to be in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton, for the academic year 2013-2014. Additionally, Heydt was awarded an NEH Fellowship for Summer 2013 on the subject of "Practical Ethics in Eighteenth Century Britain." His book Practical Ethics in Eighteenth Century Britain, will be the first book-length study that examines eighteenth century practical ethics.

Chuanmin Hu, Ph.D.
Professor, Optical Oceanography, College of Marine Science

In 2013, Hu published 20 peer-reviewed journal articles on coastal oceanography and his work was cited 904 times. Of these published works, several major breakthroughs were made on remote sensing of estuarine water quality and coastal blooms. In recognizing these and other contributions, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded Dr. Hu a Gulf Guardian Award in June 2013. Additionally, NASA decided in 2013 to use the Hu et al. (2012) chlorophyll algorithm as a standard (i.e., default) for all ocean color missions for most of the global open oceans, starting from the next round of data reprocessing in 2014. This marks the first time that a major change has been made in standard chlorophyll algorithms in optical oceanography since the 1970s.

Anne Latowsky, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director, French Graduate Program, World Languages, College of Arts and Sciences

Latowsky specializes in Medieval French literature and Latin historiography. She published a 300-page scholarly monograph in 2013 entitled, Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800-1227 with Cornell University Press, a top-ranked university press for medieval studies. The research for this book was supported by a full-year National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Research fellowship in 2009. In 2007 she was awarded the Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America for outstanding first article in the field of medieval studies.

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, College of Nursing

McMillan's research focuses on symptom assessment and management and quality of life in persons with cancer. She has developed clinically relevant tools that nurses use in assessing patient symptoms. The Constipation Assessment Scale, for example, has been used both nationally and internationally to improve assessment and management of opiate-induced constipation in persons with cancer. She tested an educational intervention, COPE, for caregivers of hospice patients with cancer and with heart failure and is currently testing it with patients with cancer, with the goal of improving symptom management for patients and improving quality of life for both patients and caregivers. She received the Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, as well as the Oncology Nursing Society 2014 Distinguished Nurse Researcher award and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

James Mihelcic, Ph.D.
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, State of Florida 21st Century World Class Scholar, College of Engineering

Mihelcic received multiple nationally competitive research awards during 2013, including two large grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), worth $3.9 million and $2.2 million respectively. Mihelcic’s NSF award is USF’s largest-ever sustainability grant and will support research related to water scarcity and supply issues, energy production, the use of finite natural resources and protection of the environment. The EPA grant supports the development of the new EPA Center for Reinventing Aging Urban Infrastructure for Nutrient Management, founded to tackle issues with urban water management in Florida. His proposal was one of four such EPA centers funded.

Gokhan Mumcu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering

Mumcu received a $400,000 National Science Foundation CAREER Award in November 2013 for his proposal entitled, Microfluidically Loaded Highly Reconfigurable Compact RF Devices. Additionally, Mumcu published seven journal papers (six in IEEE publications), received two competitive grant awards from National Science Foundation, submitted three patent applications and published four conference papers in 2013. He served as the technical program co-chair of the 2013 IEEE International Antennas and Propagation Symposium, the largest conference in his field, and two of his graduate students received competitive national awards.

Chuck Owen, M.A.
Distinguished Professor and Director, School of Music, College of The Arts

Released in 2013, pieces from Owen's jazz CD, River Runs: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar, Saxophone & Orchestra, were nominated for two separate GRAMMY Awards –in the composition categories that include entries across a wide range of genres - from jazz to popular to film music. The CD release represented the culmination of an extensive project and was funded in part through Owen’s 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, awarded to “men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” The Director of the USF Jazz Ensemble for 25 years, he led the group in performances at international jazz festivals as well as with renowned guest artists such as Ray Charles, Doc Severinson, and Lionel Hampton.

Inna Ponomareva, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physics, College of Arts and Sciences

Ponomareva has received the NSF-CAREER award in 2013 for her project entitled CAREER: Towards universal understanding of caloric and other complex effects in ferroics from multiscale modeling. The research project was funded with a five-year, $435,000 grant starting in 2013. In addition to the CAREER award, Ponomareva also received a $405,000 peer-reviewed grant from the United States Department of Energy in September 2013, entitled, Complex (anti) ferroic oxides: statics and dynamics at finite temperatures. Also in 2013, Ponomareva continued research on two peer-reviewed Federal grants, each with awards of more than $400,000, and co-authored six peer-reviewed research publications.

Jason Rohr, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Integrative Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Rohr’s research investigates the effects of agrochemicals and climate change on organisms, particularly frogs. During 2013 he published thirteen (13) peer-reviewed publications in journals such as the highly-cited Proceeding of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Nature Climate Change, Conservation Biology and Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences. Rohr’s research on frog conservation appeared on the cover of the journal Nature. Rohr was also awarded three externally funded federal grants during that period, with total funding exceeding $1 million. In addition he had two other active grants and also subcontracted a $2.5 million NSF EEID grant.

Stanley Stevens Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, and Faculty Director, CDDI

In February 2014, Stevens received his third NIH R21 award this academic year. The most current awarded project, entitled: “Impact of Ethanol-induced Protein Nitration on the Histone Modification Code”, aims to investigate a novel protein modification and its role in the development of alcohol-induced liver injury. This most recent example of Stevens’ active research has culminated in more than $604,000 in mass spectrometry-based proteomics research. Stevens also facilitated the acquisition of a new high-performance mass spectrometer in 2013, necessary for advanced proteomics research, which is now housed in the USF Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation.

Srinivas M. Tipparaju, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy

Tipparaju obtained two research grants (NIH and FHTCC) and brought $443,000 of funding support to the University and the College of Pharmacy in 2013 as federal- and state-sponsored funding to continue and maintain the cardiovascular area that he developed. The NIH grant involves researching the regulation of currents in the heart. Tipparaju partnered with Core Rx, Inc., a Tampa Bay pharmaceutical company, on the FHTCC grant to develop the project entitled, Novel Drug Delivery systems by tablet technology: Repositioning the FDA approved drug pipeline, which allows USF students to conduct research at the pharmaceutical company. Additionally, Tipparaju published four papers in high-impact journals, serving as lead author for three.

Yicheng Tu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, College of Engineering

Tu received a five-year NSF CAREER Award of nearly $500,000 to support two Ph.D. students conducting research on the foundation of algorithms for computing analytics for data mining and reduction in computational science domains, as well as the design and implementation of a push-based big-data management system. Tu also received an Nvidia CUDA Research Center award for equipment donations, which enhances his students’ ability to test and evaluate their system prototypes in state-of-the-art hardware products. Additionally, he published eight technical papers as lead or senior author and had two technical papers accepted into peer-reviewed venues, including IEEE Transactions of Knowledge and Data Engineering and ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data. His papers appeared in the conferences International Conference of Distributed Computing Systems, and International Conference on Autonomic Computing.

Xiaohong (Mary) Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Pathology and Cell Biology, Morsani College of Medicine

Zhang’s research focuses on the role of the enzyme HDAC6 and its substrates in human cancers, particularly ovarian and lung cancers. During 2013, Zhang and her research team made a discovery in the field of DNA damage response. These findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Molecular Cell and in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Zhang previously secured a highly-competitive R01 grant for over $1 million from the National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a $450 thousand Liz Tilberis Scholar Award from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), both of which were successfully renewed in 2013.

“We are delighted to celebrate our remarkable faculty and their achievements,” said Sanberg. “This award program honors our best scholars and investigators and acknowledges continued high-quality research, innovation, and entrepreneurship throughout the USF System. The exceptional research being done by the faculty is fundamental to USF’s growth as a national and international leader in research and innovation.”


The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member Institution of the National Academy of Inventors. www.usf.edu



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