Additional cohort announced for 2021 FIRST Awards

December 1, 2021

Nebraska EPSCoR’s FIRST Awards have a 17-year history of helping our state’s early-career scientists to pursue major initial research funding, specifically the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.


In 2021, Nebraska EPSCoR was able to support two cohorts of FIRST Award recipients—one set funded in January by the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement programs’  Track-1 Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation (CRRI), and another group in November that was funded by Nebraska’s new Track-1 Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies, “EQUATE.”


The Nebraska EPSCoR State Committee makes the final decision on FIRST Award Recipients, who receive $25,000 (an amount which must be matched by each Recipient’s department) and expert peer reviews that are provided to all FIRST Award Finalists.


This year, in addition to the seven FIRST Award Recipients of the January 2021 cohort, the following seven FIRST Award Recipients were decided in November:

  • Dr. Jennifer Auchtung, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)
  • Dr. Benjamin BrandsenDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Creighton University
  • Dr. Leah Butler, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO)
  • Dr. Jorge Fandinno, Computer Science Department, UNO
  • Dr. Amy Napoli, Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, UNL
  • Dr. Shuai Nie, School of Computing, UNL
  • Dr. Dung Tran, School of Computing, UNL


This Nebraska EPSCoR program is currently funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OIA-2044049. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. ###