Triple-Threat Engineering Researchers Receive NSF CAREER Awards

04/05/2013 12:53 PM

BATON ROUGE – The term “triple threat” typically implies amazing athletic excellence, but researchers at LSU are boasting a new connotation to the distinction. The College of Engineering recently announced three new faculty members have received National Science Foundation, or NSF, Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, awards – the most prestigious award bestowed upon junior faculty by the funding agency.


The following research faculty members will each receive $400,000 over five years for creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the missions of LSU and the College of Engineering:

  • Daniel Hayes, assistant professor in the LSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, “Photoactivated miRNA delivery for modulation of human adipose stromal cell differentiation”
  • Francisco Hung, assistant professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering and adjunct in the Center for Computation and Technology, “Molecular modeling of solidification of nanoconfined ionic liquids”
  • Georgios Veronis, Charles Siess Jr. Distinguished Assistant Professor in the Division of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Center for Computation & Technology, “Physics-based modeling techniques to enable high-performance nanoplasmonic devices”


“These faculty exemplify the essence of what makes LSU a uniquely great university,” said Rick Koubek, dean of the LSU College of Engineering. “They are first and foremost dedicated to providing students with an outstanding education while also being recognized by the Career Award as among the very top rising research stars in the country.”


The NSF CAREER Award is part of NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, which “recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.”


Hayes’ project involves a promising new technique to improve the control of wound healing and tissue repair process through modulation of cell and tissue function with microRNA or miRNA, which are small non-coding RNA sequences naturally found in animal and plant tissues. The grant will provide direct support for several undergraduate and graduate students as research scholars. The project presents a unique and interdisciplinary opportunity for students majoring in biomedical engineering, chemistry and related fields to build fundamental knowledge and appreciation in the areas of nanomaterial synthesis, stem cell biology, photobiology and regenerative medicine. The outreach components of this project will include K-12, undergraduate and graduate education activities.


Hung’s proposed research involves computer simulations at the molecular level of detail to fundamentally understand the behavior of ionic liquids, or ILs, confined in nanoporous materials. These systems are relevant to the development of nanomaterials for sensors and biomedical applications, energy storage and carbon dioxide sequestration. The education component of this proposal involves a close collaboration with the pre-college engineering programs of the LSU College of Engineering, specifically targeting students in grades 6-12. In addition, and due to his Hispanic background, Hung is fully committed to influencing underrepresented Hispanic students majoring in engineering, and encouraging them to excel in STEM careers.


Veronis’ work will support the development of physics-based modeling techniques to enable high-performance nanoplasmonic devices for high-density optical information processing. The results of this research will represent important breakthroughs in integrated optics, optical information processing and renewable energy sources, which have broad impacts on modern technology and human life. In addition, a new course on modeling techniques for nanophotonic devices will be introduced and the simulation tools and course materials will be globally disseminated. A special focus will be placed on outreach and recruitment of underrepresented students, introducing them to the field of nanophotonics to generate excitement for careers in engineering, science and technology.


About the NSF CAREER Award

The Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, Program is a foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.


Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from junior faculty members at all CAREER-eligible organizations, and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups and persons with disabilities to apply.

Mimi  LaValle 
Department of Physics & Astronomy

Posted on Friday, April 5, 2013