Seven LSU Faculty Awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

BATON ROUGE – Seven assistant professors at LSU have been awarded the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious grant for individual faculty members, who are within the first few years of their academic careers. NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award aims to provide stable support at a sufficient level and duration to enable awardees to develop careers not only as outstanding researchers but also as educators, who demonstrate a commitment to teaching, learning and the dissemination of knowledge. 

“LSU attracts outstanding faculty, such as these seven NSF CAREER awardees, who are dedicated to conducting cutting edge research and providing a high caliber education that benefit Louisiana’s people and economy. This excellence in scholarly inquiry and service exemplifies our dedication to the flagship and Land-, Sea- and Space-Grant mission. We are so proud of these colleagues and their work here at LSU that has garnered this national recognition,” said Samuel Bentley, vice president of the Office of Research & Economic Development.

The following faculty at LSU have received NSF CAREER Awards this year. 

LSU Chemistry Assistant Professor Noémie Elgrishi received a $685,000 award for her project titled “Confined Nano-Environments for the Stabilization of Molecular Electrocatalysts.” 

The development of sustainable energy storage technologies is on the rise to improve energy efficiency and sustainability. Elgrishi’s project will investigate electron transfers after the encapsulation of redox active molecules in nano-containers to devise novel applications in energy storage and other electrocatalytic processes relying on molecular catalysts.  

“The award will allow us to unlock a new method to prolong the life of existing metal containing molecules called catalysts, which help chemists perform challenging reactions using electricity as the energy input,” Elgrishi said.

LSU Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Manas Gartia received $500,005 for his project titled “Multimodal Approach for Label-Free Imaging of Lipidomic Changes in Brain,” which seeks to establish a method to image lipids, or fatty acids, in brain cells and tissues. 

Gartia is investigating whether Alzheimer’s Disease is associated with an altered lipid distribution in the brain. This knowledge could lead to new therapeutics and/or diets targeting specific lipids in the brain to improve the outcome in Alzheimer’s patients. 

“The first objective [of the project] is to develop a super-resolution nonlinear microscopy system,” Gartia said. “This technique will allow us to look deeper into tissues which traditional microscopes do not. The second objective is to use the…microscopy system to image the chemical profile of cells and tissues. This will allow us to detect cellular changes in several common diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiac disease.” 

LSU Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Philip Jung received a $442,451 award for his project titled “Engineering Laminin Globular Domains for Accelerated Cardiomyocyte Proliferation: Validation with a 3D-Bioprinted In Vitro Infarct Model.” 

The heart contains 2 to 3 billion cardiac muscle cells, which account for less than a third of the total cell number in the left ventricle, alone—and if there is any critical damage to the heart resulting in the loss of those cells, there is no way to get them back. Jung’s project aims to engineer designer proteins to stimulate the proliferation of cardiomyocytes, or cardiac muscle cells, which aid in recovery after myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

“If we can figure out any single way to increase the proliferation of cardiomyocytes, even at a small scale, that would be significant help for patients suffering from heart failure,” Jung said. “Traditionally, cell and stem cell therapies have been attempted to replenish the lost cardiomyocytes. However, this comes with immune rejection at varying degrees. 

“The new method I proposed here is to engineer the native protein called the extracellular matrix to stimulate the proliferation of cardiomyocytes. If successful, we may have another strategy to grow more cardiomyocytes without the complication of preparing cells, potentially avoiding immunological rejection.” 

LSU Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Genevieve Palardy received a $585,950 award for her project titled “Understanding Ultrasonic Processing of Layered Polymer Composites across Length Scales.” 

Palardy’s project is aimed at helping bring a new approach to manufacturing, specifically through the use of polymer composite materials and ultrasonic processing. Her research seeks to further the development of ultrasonic processing of composites and advance the growth of several applications in the aerospace, transportation, maritime, piping and wind energy industries. 

“One specific application I’m researching is called ultrasonic welding, not only for joining, but for consolidation and repair of composites as well,” Palardy said. “The ultrasonic vibrations work in a way similar to rubbing your hands quickly to warm up in winter. For example, if you want to join two parts together, you can stack them on top of each other, place a thermoplastic film between them, and apply ultrasonic vibrations perpendicularly to the material stack.” 

LSU Geology & Geophysics Assistant Professor Patricia Persaud received a $589,134 award for her project titled “Fluid-driven Deformation in Underground Salt Caverns and Wastewater Injection Sites.”

Like many areas located in energy corridors, human-induced earthquakes are now occurring in Louisiana. Persaud’s project will be the first to provide robust high-resolution seismic data and to map in 3D specific areas in Louisiana where the Earth’s crust is changing due to natural and human causes. These areas include northwest Louisiana with high wastewater injection rates; an underground salt dome storage cavern, where ground motions have been reported; and across the Baton Rouge fault that also acts as a barrier to the intrusion of saltwater from the gulf.

“Louisiana and the region supplies the bulk of the U.S.’s oil and gas; therefore, it is critically important to learn how human activities are changing and deforming the Earth, especially in an area that is experiencing subsidence, or sinking, groundwater salinization and increasing seismicity associated with wastewater disposal from hydrocarbon exploration,” Persaud said.

LSU Civil & Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Samuel Snow received a $534,860 award for his project titled “Accelerating Sustainable Water Treatment Using Smart Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diodes.”

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, shine high-energy ultraviolet, or UV, rays, which provides a new tool for water treatment technologies. Snow is taking this a step further by aiming to design the first smart UV LED systems using the new UV colors available with LEDs and their ability to pulse on and off quickly. This technology would offer numerous benefits to people around the world, from cheaper and better treatment of wastewater to new handheld devices that clean drinking water in remote places.

“In effect, the technologies will make it cheaper to clean our drinking and wastewater before use or discharge,” Snow said. “There are already some personal-scale water treatment devices available for hikers and disaster relief which use UV technology. Our work should help us design better tools of this sort which make use of the LED advancements.”

LSU Division of Electrical & Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Jian Xu received $500,000 for his project titled “Image Critical Dental Diseases that Current Dental X-ray/CT Fails to Detect, Without Ionizing Radiation.”

X-ray imaging techniques, such as 2D X-rays and 3D computed tomography, or CT, are widely used in dental clinics and release this harmful radiation, which involves atoms in living cells becoming ionized, leading to one of three things—the cell dies, the cell repairs itself or the cell mutates incorrectly and becomes cancerous. 

To combat this, Xu began experimenting with near-infrared imaging, or NIR, specifically fluorescence imaging. This type of imaging used indocyanine green, or ICG, a dye that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. The work has proved successful. 

“Our method can not only eliminate the ionizing radiation from the prevalent dental X-ray or CT, but also outperforms the dental X-ray or CT in some aspects,” Xu said. “For instance, our new scheme can detect some critical diseases that current dental X-ray or CT fails to detect. Some of these diseases are very common. For instance, 34-74 percent of people have tooth cracks. Due to highly variable symptoms, cracks are notoriously difficult to diagnose, even for experienced dentists. Our new dental imaging scheme can easily detect the cracks, including the thinnest type.” 

Xu is optimistic about his technology becoming the standard imaging technique for dentists in the future and doesn’t see any major obstacles on the path to commercialization. So far, he has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of his imaging method on extracted human teeth. The next step will be clinical trials.


Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations
c. 510-816-8161


Josh Duplechain
LSU College of Engineering