Early Career Faculty Receive NSF Awards

Three assistant professors at Rutgers University School of Engineering have been awarded prestigious CAREER awards. The honors from the National Science Foundation come with grants totaling more than $1.5 million for campus-based research that will include dozens of Rutgers graduate students and undergraduates during the next five years.

The awards are given to early career faculty who show excellence in integrating teaching and research. The 2018 awardees come from three departments are involved diverse areas of research: cell phone security, tissue engineering for wound healing and more efficient production of materials used in a range of goods.

“This is a tremendous honor for Rutgers and some of its most promising junior faculty and will provide meaningful research opportunities for the students they teach and mentor” said Thomas N. Farris, dean of the engineering school. “The breadth of this faculty research is an indication of the vibrant and innovative intellectual environment fostered at Rutgers.”

The NSF grants will run through mid-2023. Each of the winning research proposals includes educational outreach to students in primary and secondary schools in New Jersey. “We’re a part of our community and invested in nurturing the next generation of engineering students,” said Dean Farris. “These exemplary early career teachers make excellent role models and mentors.”

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Rutgers 2018 CAREER Awardees:

Janne Lindqvist, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Awarded $507,568 for his research in science of security. As smartphones have become the main computing and internet platform, a critical need has emerged for secure authentication methods to verify authorized users. Many solutions have been proposed, but there remains insufficient understanding of effective and user-friendly methods of securing information. The research will provide understanding of human cognitive capabilities that can support security. Lindquist also focuses on promoting underrepresented students in STEM, from K-12 and above. A native of Finland, Lindqvist came to Rutgers in 2011.

Ronke Olabisi, Biomedical Engineering

Awarded $500,000 for her research on faster healing of chronic wounds that afflict the elderly, immobile, obese and diabetics. Olabisi’s lab will study the pairing of adult-stem and insulin-producing cells in speeding wound healing and reducing scarring and threats to life and limb. Initial findings are promising. Olabisi plans to emphasize the recruitment and retention of female students to course-based research; they in turn will do educational outreach in K-12 schools in Central Jersey. Olabisi grew up in nearby Plainfield and came to Rutgers in 2012. 

George Tsilomelekis, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Awarded $500,000 for research on developing more energy-efficient production of propylene, which is used in creating many materials. The research will develop novel catalysts with dual functionality for converting propane to propylene. Tsilomelekis’ uses spectroscopic techniques under real reaction conditions in seeking new paths to efficient, renewable and alternative energy sources. The award also will fund outreach for younger students through development of a freeware computer game that teaches principles of molecular symmetry and spectroscopy. A native of Greece, Tsilomelekis came to Rutgers in 2015.