Faculty Highlights: Recent Grants and Awards | Now

Drexel University faculty were recognized last term for their scholarly research and professional contributions and recognitions. This update offers a snapshot of recent activity, courtesy of the Office of the Provost.

Sponsored Research

College of Computing & Informatics’ Metadata Research Center, led by Jane Greenberg, PhD, Alice B. Kroeger professor, is one of 10 research partners that are a part of a new $15 million National Science Foundation (NSF) effort to harness the power of data science and AI to guide materials science research. The Data-Driven Dynamical Design Institute is one of five new “Harnessing Data Revolution Institutes,” funded by a $75 million NSF program, to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will explore fundamental questions at the frontiers of science and engineering.

College of Computing & Informatics faculty members Assistant Professor Christopher MacLellan, PhD, and Associate Professors Edward Kim, PhD, and Rosina Weber, PhD, were selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a competitive award to improve battlefield injury diagnostics by developing point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) AI innovations. Drexel CCI is one of five institutions chosen to tackle DARPA’s ground-breaking project.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, professor of food and hospitality management and director of the Drexel Food Lab; Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, PhD, associate dean of interprofessional research and development and professor of nursing; Brandy-Joe Milliron, PhD, associate professor of nutrition science; Kathleen Fisher, PhD, professor of graduate nursing; and Dimitri Pappas, JD, Orchard Solutions, received a $165,000 Coulter Translational Research Partnership Grant Award for Functional Ice Cream Alternative to Oral Nutrition Supplements.

Joke Bradt, PhD, professor of creative arts therapies in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, co-received a PCORI $3.3 million grant that was recently awarded for a large-scale comparative effectiveness trial “Music Therapy vs. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Cancer-related Anxiety (MELODY).”

Amy Slaton, PhD, department head and professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded $523,913 over five years as a senior researcher on the NSF INCLUDES Alliance project “Engineering Plus: Partnerships Launching Underrepresented Students,” based at Northeastern University. The award includes support for a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of History.

Evan Forman, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the WELL Center in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases for his project “Engaging Men in Weight Loss With a Game-Based mHealth and Neurotraining Program.”

The College of Medicine’s Brian Wigdahl, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology, and Michael Nonnemacher, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, received funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research Program. Their combined total awards were $2.4 million.

Jessica Barson, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy, College of Medicine, was awarded a $2.59 million R01 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for “Mechanisms of Rostrocaudal Differences in Accumbal Kappa Opioid Receptor Effects on Ethanol Drinking.”

Researchers in the Dornsife School of Public Health and College of Nursing and Health Professions, led by co-principal investigators Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, Dana and David Dornsife dean and distinguished university professor of epidemiology at the Dornsife School of Public Health, and Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, distinguished university professor, executive director of the AgeWell Collaboratory and dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, received a five-year, $14.4 million “Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation” (FIRST) grant from the NIH. This funding allows each school to hire, retain and support diverse, early-career researchers with a focus on health disparities research on aging, chronic disease, and/or environmental determinants.

The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded $2.2 million to a team of researchers led by Brent Langellier, PhD, associate professor of health management and policy at the Dornsife School of Public Health, to study the factors that produce racial/ethnic and income disparities in healthy diets across Philadelphia neighborhoods. The team will examine the economic consequences of the pandemic, recent changes in key federal policies, and collaborate with stakeholders to assess promising policies that could be used to reduce diet disparities.

Mary Jean Tecce DeCarlo, EdD, associate clinical professor in the School of Education, received a faculty research grant from the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in the United Arab Emirates. DeCarlo, along with School of Education PhD graduate Alia Ammar, traveled to the UAE during the fall to conduct research for their project titled, “Special Education Policy in the United Arab Emirates: Implementation and Perception in Ras Al Khaimah.”

Nick Jushchyshyn, assistant professor, Westphal College, is an invited artist for a special program from Tribeca and Epic. Jushchyshyn will be paired with a film writer/director and serve as a mentor on how to use virtual production software Unreal Engine to transform how films are written.

Amy Throckmorton, PhD, associate professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, received a $913,00 Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant for 2021–2024 to fund six doctoral students on pediatric-centric research themes.

Christopher Li, PhD, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, is the recipient of a two-year NSF MRI grant to acquire a state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope (SEM) designed for advanced imaging and analysis, replacing an out-of-date SEM, and having a positive long-term impact on the research community.

College of Engineering and Distinguished Professor Dean Sharon Walker, PhD, received a grant from the NSF’s ADVANCE program, which provides grants to enhance the systemic factors that support equity and inclusion and to mitigate the systemic factors that create inequities in the academic profession and workplaces. Walker is joined on the project by co-principal investigators Maria Schultheis, PhD, vice provost of research and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences; Kristy Kelly, PhD, associate clinical professor in the School of Education; and Leslie McClure, PhD, professor and chair of epidemiology and biostatistics in the Dornsife School of Public Health. This project will investigate the University’s practices in promoting midcareer women faculty and identify best practices developed by other institutions.

Sorin Siegler, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering, and Ahmad Najafi, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, partnered with Brian Garvey (BS/MS ’12) and Kinos Medical Inc. on “Design and Manufacturing Optimization of a Personalized Total Ankle Replacement,” funded by PA Manufacturing Innovation Program.

Masoud Soroush, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering and Michael Grady, adjunct professor in the College of Engineering, have teamed with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis on a project to explore the cyber manufacturing of MXenes. The project has received support in the form of a multi-million-dollar NSF Future Manufacturing Research Grant (FMRG).

Naomi Goldstein, PhD, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab, and Leah Brogan, PhD, Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow in the lab, were awarded a $41,585 supplement to the previous $159,427 award for their work titled “Supplement to Developing and Implementing a Graduated Response Technical Assistance Model in Juvenile Probation Across Pennsylvania: An Emerging Leader Fellowship.” Goldstein and Brogan were also awarded a $29,394 supplement to the previous $201,012 award for their work titled “State Supplement to Supplement to Developing and Implementing a Graduated Response Technical Assistance Model in Juvenile Probation Across Pennsylvania.”

College of Arts and Sciences faculty Professor Charles Lane, PhD; Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Education Michelle Dolinski, PhD; and Associate Professor Russell Neilson, PhD, received a grant renewal from the Department of Energy Office of Science over the next four years for the project “Experimental Particle Physics at Drexel.”

Major Gifts, Honors & Recognition


Liza Herzog, PhD, JD, director of academic research at the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, was included in Generosity’s 2021 “Reallist: 45 Philadelphia-Area Leaders Whose Work Makes a Difference.” Herzog was featured for her work on evaluating and effecting policy change in educational settings.

Paul Kim, founder of know.capital, has signed a gift agreement to donate $100,000 ($25,000 a year for four years) to the Drexel Food Lab. This gift will establish the Food Entrepreneur Ecosystem Development (FEED) program to support the Food Lab in providing food product development assistance for start-up food businesses, especially but not limited to women and BIPOC-owned companies. There will also be co-working sessions with Kim and his colleagues and ancillary events.

Ben Binder-Markey, PhD, DPT, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was selected to be a part of the USBJI Young Investigator Initiative Fall 2021 Workshop.

David DeMatteo, JD, PhD, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and Kline School of Law, was selected as president-elect of the American Board of Forensic Psychology, part of the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Joe Foley, PhD, department head and professor of chemistry, in the College of Arts and Sciences, received the Eastern Analytical Symposium Award for Outstanding Achievements in Separation Science.

Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, was appointed chair of the Observational Studies Monitoring Board (ORMB) for the National Institutes of Health’s REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative in September 2021. The RECOVER initiative will build a national study population of diverse research volunteers and support large-scale studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and director of the Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements and Population Health Equity at the Dornsife School of Public Health, was appointed to The Lancet International Advisory Board for GRacE, their Group for Racial Equity.

Kline School of Law announced the creation of the Center for Law and Transformational Technology, supported through a startup from the Green Family Foundation. The primary goals of the Center are to create bridges between scholars working in the law and technology to enhance educational offerings focused on the nexus of law and new technology. Jordan Fisher, JD ’13 and assistant teaching professor in the Kline School of Law, will be the director.

College of Engineering Distinguished University and Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor and
Director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute Yury Gogotsi, PhD, is the recipient of the 2021 Materials Research Society Medal, awarded “for contributions to advancing the understanding of processing, structure, and properties of two-dimensional carbides and nitrides (MXenes) for energy storage applications.”

Matthew Stamm, PhD, associate professor in the College of Engineering, was featured in Popular Science’s “2021 Brilliant 10” as one of the most innovative minds in science today for his research on digital photo forensics.

Adam Fontecchio, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering, was honored with the American Society for Engineering Education Benjamin Garver Lamme Award.

Franco Montalto, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering, has been selected as an author for the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). The Congressionally mandated report is the U.S. government’s premier assessment of the science of climate change and its impacts on the nation. It is written by hundreds of experts from around the country, who help ensure that the findings are accessible and useful to the widest possible audience. NCA5 is expected for release in late 2023.

Noel Goodstadt, DPT, associate clinical professor and director of residency programs and human gross anatomy, and Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, director of research labs, both in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Sriram Balasubramanian, PhD, associate professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, and Sheri Silfies, PT, PhD, associate professor of exercise science in the University of South Carolina, and were awarded a U.S. Patent for their portable dynamometer. The device is aimed at high quality isometric muscle strength testing in a portable form that can be used in gyms, in physical therapy, chiropractics, or other rehabilitation professionals to assess the strength of a patient.

Jennifer Katz-Buonincontro, PhD, professor and associate dean of research in the School of Education, was elected to serve as president of Division 10, the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts with the American Psychological Association. 

Peter A. Lewin, PhD, Richard B. Beard Distinguished University Professor and director of the Biomedical Ultrasound Research and Education Center in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, was recognized as a Distinguished Advocate and Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), in recognition of his outstanding commitment to AIMBE’s critical advocacy mission for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Elea Feit, PhD, assistant professor in the LeBow College of Business, was named Top Analytics Educator by the Digital Analytics Association at the organization’s conference in October 2021.


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