Nebraska EPSCoR announces new recipients for annual FIRST Award

November 14, 2023

Funding, expert reviews assist early-career faculty in pursuing national distinctions

To help Nebraska’s early-career scientists prepare to pursue important large research grants, such as the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award, Nebraska EPSCoR conducts annual FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—Awards.

Each year several dozen CAREER Award aspirants submit pre-proposals to Nebraska EPSCoR’s FIRST Awards competition, with a select group of these applicants meriting FIRST Award “Finalist” status. In early fall 2023, chosen finalists were invited to advance, and prepare full proposals patterned after the NSF CAREER Award format; all FIRST Award Finalists gain expert scientific reviews on these submissions. From the Finalists group, FIRST Award Recipients advance to receive $25,000 for their further national award submission efforts (along with contribution from each Recipient’s department)—in addition to the valuable reviews by national-level scientists outside Nebraska, engaged by Nebraska EPSCoR.

At Nebraska EPSCoR’s meeting of its State Committee on November 7, the following FIRST Award Recipients were selected:

  • Steven Fernandes, Creighton University - Computer Science, Design and Journalism
  • Kwangsung Oh, University of Nebraska at Omaha – Computer Science
  • Lochana Palayangoda, University of Nebraska at Omaha - Department of Mathematics
  • Arman Roohi, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – School of Computing
  • Shibiao Wan, University of Nebraska Medical Center - Genetics, Cell Biology & Anatomy
  • Jieqiong Wang, University of Nebraska Medical Center – Department of Neurological Sciences

More information about Nebraska EPSCoR’s FIRST Awards program is at, including past Recipients since the program began in 2004. Nebraska EPSCoR conducts this program with funding currently through NSF RII Track-1 Award OIA #2044049.