2017 FIRST Awards announced

April 19, 2017

Nebraska EPSCoR FIRST Awards winners gain funding, expert reviews

When the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy announce annual Early Career Development Program honors for pre-tenure faculty, these “CAREER Awards” are a significant boost to the teacher-scholar recipients: a handful of scientists from across the nation. CAREER Awards—including substantial, multi-year funding—open the door to further outstanding research, education and the integration of these important pursuits.

 To help Nebraska scientists prepare for these rigorous opportunities, Nebraska EPSCoR conducts a preliminary version of the CAREER Award process with an in-state competition. Each year, several dozen CAREER Award aspirants submit pre-proposals to Nebraska EPSCoR’s FIRST Award competition, with a select group of these applicants meriting FIRST Award “Finalist” status. This year, 14 Finalists were chosen to move forward in the FIRST Award process with their proposals patterned after the CAREER Award format. All of the Finalists gain the value of expert reviews from the field, gathered through FIRST Award evaluations.

 Those selected from among the Finalists as FIRST Award “Recipients” receive Nebraska EPSCoR funding of $25,000 for their further submission efforts toward the NSF CAREER Award—as well as the helpful reviews on their proposals. FIRST Awards’ combination of support has equipped many Nebraska scientists for success in pursuing further distinctions.

 From the most recent applicants, six FIRST Award recipients were selected by Nebraska EPSCoR’s State Committee at its 2017 meeting:

  • Vitaly Alexandrov, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Proposal: “Understanding Solution and Interfacial Electrochemistry for High-Performance Redox Flow Batteries from First-Principles Simulations” 
  • Hamid Bagheri, UNL Computer Science and Engineering, Proposal: Scalable Software Verification through Automated Derivation of Domain-Specific Optimization Tactics 
  • Shudipto Dishari, UNL Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Proposal: CAREER: Addressing the Critical Concerns of Confined Ionomeric Systems and Advanced Fluorescence Imaging of Ionic Distribution 
  • Anna Selmecki, Creighton University Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Proposal: Mechanisms of genome stabilization after whole genome duplication 
  • Daizaburo Shizuka, UNL School of Biological Sciences, Proposal: Linking the dynamics of populations and social networks in birds 
  • Ryan Wong, University of Nebraska at Omaha Biology, Proposal:Neural and molecular mechanisms underlying alternative stress coping styles 
  • Alex Zupan, UNL Department of Mathematics, Proposal: “Invariants in higher dimensional knot theory”

 For more information about Nebraska EPSCoR’s FIRST Award process, click here