Faculty & Staff Accolades February & March 2019

Accolades celebrate the professional achievements of the faculty and staff in the College of Science. The following accolades are published for February & March 2019.

College of Science faculty were nominated for the Career Connection Faculty Award; an annual award celebrating George Mason University’s faculty and staff who make a positive impact on students’ career goals, employment plans, or graduate school preparation. The nominees for 2019 include: Natalie Burls and Paul Dirmeyer, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences; Sarah Bui, Gwendolyne Fondufe, Charles Madden, Alexandra Masterson, Daniel Pinto, Deborah Polayes, and Theodorus Visseren, Biology; Gerald Weatherspoon, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Donna Fox and Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, College of Science; Estela Blaisten-Barojas, Andrew Crooks, and William Kennedy, Computational and Data Sciences; R. Christian Jones, Susan Keltner, Younsung Kim, Serenity Montano, Jennifer Sklarew, and Cindy Smith, Environmental Science and Policy; Paul Houser and Maction Komwa, Geography and Geoinformation Science; Douglas Eckle and Nacir Himidouch, Mathematical Sciences; Shobita Satyapal, Physics and Astronomy; Dmitri Klimov, School of Systems Biology; Stephanie Lessard-Pilon, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation. Includes Teaching Assistants.

Harbir Antil, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded $17,680 for East Coast Optimization Meeting (ECOM) 2019 – Participant Support Costs by the National Science Foundation. He was also awarded $22,236 for Fractional PDEs by Sandia National Laboratories. Prime Sponsor: U.S. Department of Energy.

Ancha Baranova, School of Systems Biology, co-published her research on cell-free DNA titled “Utility of cfDNA Fragmentation Patterns in Designing the Liquid Biopsy Profiling Panels to Improve Their Sensitivity” in Frontiers in Genetics, and on organs-on-a-chip titled “Towards embedding Caco-2 model of gut interface in a microfluidic device to enable multi-organ models for systems biology” in BMC Systems Biology. She was the advisor for student, Samantha Sevilla, who won the travel scholarship to participate in the 2019 ACMG Foundation Genetic and Genomic Medicine Summer Genetic Scholars Program in Seattle, WA.

Natalie Burls, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies along with graduate student, Keri Kodama, published a paper titled “An empirical adjusted ENSO ocean energetics framework based on observational wind power in the tropical Pacific” in Climate Dynamics. She also published a paper with post-doc, Ehsan Erfani, titled “The Strength of Low-Cloud Feedbacks and Tropical Climate: A CESM Sensitivity Study” in Journal of Climate. Burls, along with Benjamin Cash, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, published a paper titled “Predictable and Unpredictable Aspects of US West Coast Rainfall and El Niño: Understanding the 2015-2016 Event” in Journal of Climate.

Kim De Mutsert, Environmental Science and Policy, along with student co-PI Samantha Alexander, were awarded $4,984 for Assessment of fish passage use and success in facilitating movement of regionally vulnerable and invasive fish species in northern Virginia portion of the Potomac River: Samantha Alexander Fellowship by Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Prime Sponsor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Kenneth Dere, Physics and Astronomy, co-published an article titled “CHIANTI—An Atomic Database for Emission Lines. XV. Version 9, Improvements for the X-Ray Satellite Lines” in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 2019, 241, 21.

Virgina Espina, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $80,668 for Cannabinoid autophagy inhibitors by Targeted Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

Gregory Foster, Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with co-PI R. Christian Jones, Environmental Science and Policy, were awarded $164,429 for Combined Sewer Overflow Monitoring in Alexandria, Virginia by Alexandria Renewal Enterprises.

Harold Geller, Physics and Astronomy, presented to the Central Parke at Lowes Island Association a talk titled “Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places – The Search for Life in the Universe” in February. In March 2019 Geller presented at the Potomac Community Library a talk titled “What is a Planet? Mars, Pluto and Exoplanets as Examples.” He served as a science and engineering fair judge for the Department of the Army and served as a review panelist for the NASA Astrobiology program. Geller was also featured in Mason’s newspaper, Fourth Estate, in the “Faces of Mason.”

Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, College of Science, served as moderator for the ¡Aqui Estamos! First Year Experiences and Latinx Inclusion and Engagement panel at the 2019 VALHEN Encuentro.

Nadine Kabbani, School of Systems Biology, IPN, was awarded $35,431 for an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Prime Sponsor: DOD.

Cing-Dao (Steve) Kan, Physics and Astronomy, Center for Collision Safety and Analysis, along with co-PI Rudolf Reichert, Center for Collision, Safety and Analysis, were awarded $225,000 for INitiative for Future Automated vehicle Safety (INFAS) by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Fatah Kashanchi, School of Systems Biology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, was awarded $63,716 for Effect of Cannabinoids on HIV-1 infected cells and EV release by Targeted Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

Haw (HC) Lim, Biology, co-published a paper titled “A cryptic new species of bulbul from Borneo” in BioOne COMPLETE on the basis of the research he conducted with his colleagues on finding a new bird species.

Lance Liotta, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $30,400 for Targeting Rab6–km23-1-mediated compartmentalized trafficking as a novel therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s disease by Pennsylvania State University. Prime Sponsor: DHHS (NIH).

Alessandra Luchini, along with co-PI Lance Liotta, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, were awarded $502,980 for High sensitivity multiplex detection of tick borne infection peptides by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and $318,977 for a Sponsored Research Agreement by Targeted Biosciences, Inc.

Dhafer Marzougui, along with co-PI Cing-Dao (Steve) Kan, Physics and Astronomy, Center for Collison, Safety and Analysis, were awarded $249,867 for Evaluating the Performance of Longitudinal Barriers on Curved, Superelevated Off-Ramps by The National Academies of Sciences. Prime Sponsor: Federal Highway Administration.

Aarthi Narayanan, School of Systems Biology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, was awarded $111,869 for A basic research pipeline for discovery and early preclinical development of host-targeted antiviral strategies to combat encephalitic alphavirus infections by Stanford University. Prime Sponsor: Defense Threat Reduction Agency. She was also awarded $276,949 for Encapsulated Countermeasure Strategies for Protection Against Aerosolized Pathogens by the U.S. Department of the Army.

Kathleen Pegion, Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences, was awarded $60,000 for Sub X Continuation by the University of Miami. Prime Sponsor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Esther Peters, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $74,923 for Disease Investigation: In Search of a Cause for the Widespread Coral Mortality Event in Florida by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Prime Sponsor: Department of the Interior.

Peter Plavchan, Physics and Astronomy, recently completed and published a two year NASA mission concept study, leading a team of over 50 international scientists to evaluate the scientific rationale for a new kind of NASA astrophysics probe-class ($1B) mission called EarthFinder. The EarthFinder probe-class NASA mission concept will survey the nearest Sun-like stars using the Doppler technique to detect Earth-mass planets orbiting in the habitable “Goldilocks” zone of their stars.

Padhu Seshaiyer, College of Science, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded the STEM Champion Award for his work with George Mason University as well as across the broader community. This awards program recognizes and honors businesses and individuals for their efforts to develop and/or promote K-12 science and technology programs that add value to the local community and inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. He was also awarded $9,000 for 2019 Chesapeake Bay Bowl by Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Inc.

Diego Valderrama, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $32,352 for Assessing the catch efficiency of innovative trapping devices to improve the response to the Lionfish invasion in threatened areas of the Caribbean Sea by The Eppley Foundation for Research.

Patrick Vora, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded a NSF CAREER Award in the amount of $557,230 for: Proximity Effects in van der Waals Heterostructures by the National Science Foundation.

Chaowei (Phil) Yang, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Intelligent Spatial Computing for Water/Energy Science, along with co-PI Matthew Rice, Geography and Geoinformation Science, were awarded $750,000 for Phase II I/UCRC [George Mason University]: Center for Spatiotemporal Thinking, Computing and Applications by the National Science Foundation. Yang was also awarded $100,000 for Planetary Defense by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.