Bisgrove Scholars

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SFAz Impact

297 researchers Creating a pipeline of talent for Arizona’s new economy 1,865 Direct jobs associated with our grants 4.8:1 Leverage of non-state vs. state funding 10,656 Teachers engaged 385,000 Students impacted

Horizon Interview (6-10-15)

2015 Bisgrove Scholar Ceremony

Arizona Horizons - Bisgrove Scholars

Bisgrove Scholars

The future of Arizona and the nation is linked to the creativity and competitiveness of the next generation of academic researchers in science and engineering. Recognizing this, SFAz initiated the Bisgrove Scholars program to attract and retain exceptional individuals who have demonstrated substantial achievement and possess the potential to transform ideas into great value for society.

2017 Bisgrove Scholars

Bruno Azeredo, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Polytechnic School and member of the ASU Manufacturing Research Innovation Hub. Dr. Azeredo earned his B.S. in engineering mechanics in 2010, M.S. in theoretical and applied mechanics in 2013, and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2016, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the design of manufacturing platforms to enable scalable fabrication of micro and nanomaterials for applications in biomedical devices, optics, microelectronics and energy harvesting.

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The proposed research project will develop an automated manufacturing platform for micro and nanomaterials that introduces 3D dimensional control and increases throughput by integrating in-line metrology systems, and process modeling and controls. The platform will prototype complex 3D optical devices such as lenses with unprecedented anti-reflective properties. These optical devices operate in the infrared range and can dramatically improve the performance of biomedical sensor detectors in space technology and interconnect for silicon photonics.  By concomitantly rethinking production systems and developing optical device technologies, this project has the potential to bridge the large gap between science and industry, and eliminate barriers in the roadmap of the electronics, photonics and defense industries.

Jianqiang Cheng, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Systems and Industrial Engineering at the University of Arizona (UA). Dr. Cheng earned his B.S. in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics from Shanghai University, China, in 2007, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Paris-Sud, France, in 2013. Prior to joining UA, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA. His research interests include stochastic programming, robust optimization, semidefinite and copositive optimization, and applications of stochastic programming in network design and energy management.

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As a Bisgrove Scholar, Dr. Cheng will conduct research on the development of advanced quantitative methods and algorithmic tools for optimization problems in the presence of uncertainties. In particular, he will: 1) develop approximation approaches to solve risk-averse decision making problems, especially chance constrained programming problems, 2) develop computationally efficient approaches for large-scale optimization problems under uncertainty by applying dimensionality reduction techniques, and 3) apply the developed methodology to solve optimization problems encountered in power systems. The results of this project will have the potential to provide new tools and methodologies to effectively solve optimization problems under uncertainty, and thus facilitate decision making in power systems with uncertain renewable energy.

John Schaibley, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona. Dr. Schaibley earned his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Purdue University graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and then obtained his M.S. in Electrical Engineering (Optics) and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Michigan. His doctoral dissertation focused on interfacing the quantum states of single electrons bound to single semiconductor quantum dots with single photons for developing quantum information technologies. Dr. Schaibley became involved in developing novel two-dimensional optoelectronic device technologies during his postdoc at the University of Washington.

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As a Bisgrove Scholar, Dr. Schaibley will research nanoscale optical and electronic technologies based on recently discovered two-dimensional (2D) semiconductors. 2D semiconductors are atomically thin materials that are only three atoms thick. Devices based on these ultrathin materials therefore realize the fundamental small-size limit for miniaturized optical and electronic technologies. Dr. Schaibley will develop 2D semiconductor devices that can be used in flexible display and energy harvesting technologies. He will also research ultrahigh speed computing technologies based on controlling plasmonic (coupled light-electronic) waves using 2D semiconductors. By developing new knowledge and device technologies, Dr. Schaibley hopes to bring 2D semiconductor device technology into practical industry applications that take advantage of their ultrasmall size and excellent optical and electronic properties. Such devices could have significant impact in the areas of flexible and wearable electronics and optoelectronics, as well as nanoscale optical computing devices that have the potential to be 1000 times faster than traditional electronic devices. Dr. Schaibley will be mentored by senior faculty at The University of Arizona, including Prof. Sumit Mazumdar, Associate Prof. Brian LeRoy, Prof. Nasser Peyghambarian, and Prof. Robert Norwood.

Michael Marty, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Arizona (UA). Dr. Marty earned his B.A. in chemistry and mathematics at St. Olaf College in 2010, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He completed his Ph.D. in chemistry as a Springborn Fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013 followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford until joining the UA faculty in 2016.

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Dr. Marty studies membrane proteins and lipids with mass spectrometry. Lipid bilayers define the boundaries of cells and cellular compartments. Membrane proteins sit within the bilayers and control the flow of chemicals, energy, and information across these membranes. Because they have such important cellular functions, most drugs target membrane proteins. There is a growing understanding that the surrounding lipids can be critical for membrane protein function, but it is challenging to study these interactions. Dr. Marty creates nanoscale lipoprotein particles known as nanodiscs to study membrane proteins within a defined lipid context. He then analyzes these assemblies with mass spectrometry to detect lipid binding and study these interactions. He is especially interested in uncoupling proteins, which are thought to be involved in cancer, diabetes, and ageing. By unraveling the protein-lipid interactions, Dr. Marty’s goal is to understand their molecular mechanisms and open new avenues to therapeutically target these proteins. Dr. Marty’s mentoring team includes Professor Scott Saavedra, Professor Craig Aspinwall, and Professor William Montfort at UA and Dr. Iain Campuzano at Amgen Incorporated.

Luke McGuire, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from Bucknell University in 2008. After earning his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from The University of Arizona in 2013, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program.

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The Bisgrove Scholars Award will allow Dr. McGuire to investigate increases in soil erosion and debris flow susceptibility in areas recently burned by wildfire. Debris flows are mixtures of sediment, rock, and water that can move rapidly downhill on steep slopes. In recently burned areas, debris flows can occur with little warning following rainfall and pose a serious threat to human life and infrastructure. Using a combination of field measurements, computer modeling, and data gathered remotely using unmanned aerial systems, Dr. McGuire’s research seeks to isolate the hydrologic and geologic factors that contribute most to the formation of post-wildfire debris flows. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop improved models for assessing post-wildfire hazards and to refine methods to rapidly acquire the data needed to apply these models for practical purposes. This research will be conducted under the mentorship of Jon Pelletier at The University of Arizona and Ann Youberg and Philip Pearthree at the Arizona Geological Survey.

2016 Bisgrove Scholars

Fabian Fernandez Early Tenure Track Faculty, University of Arizona Fabian Fernandez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neurology, and a Fellow with the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona (UA). Dr. Fernandez earned his B.S. in a self-tailored interdisciplinary program in Neurobiological Science from Florida, Gainesville, in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University in 2008. While at Stanford he devised the first hypothesis based pharmacological treatment for intellectual disabilities accompanying Down syndrome and worked with a collaborative team to define the memory problems associated with chronic circadian dysrhythmia.  Dr. Fernandez then took time to work with some friends to develop a start up company in South America before returning to the study of neuroscience at John Hopkins University.

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Dr. Fernandez’s research will determine what characteristics of light most influence the brain’s timekeeping ability (Circadian rhythm). With data he systematically collects, he will develop the world’s first programming language for how to strategically deliver photic information to normalize the clock’s operation when weakened. His ultimate goal will be to embody this programming language in a small medical devise that can be activated to strengthen circadian rhythms and cognition when a person is asleep.  Memory loss occurs during normal ageing and is one of the earliest features of cognitive, age-related disease.  By augmenting circadian rhythmicity with the medical device-by orienting an individual’s cadence so that they are awake during the day and at rest during the evening – Dr. Fernandez hopes to prolong the time the people of Arizona can thrive as they enter the mature stages of life. Dr. Fernandez mentor team for his Bisgrove funded research at UA include, Regents Professor Carol A. Barnes, Ph.D., Professor Linda L. Restifo, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Lynn Nadel, Ph.D. and Regents Professor Fernando D. Martinez, M.D.

Wenlong Zhang Early Tenure Track Faculty, Arizona State University  Wenlong Zhang, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic School in Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University (ASU).  Dr. Zhang began his career in China where he earned his B. Eng. (Hons.) in Control Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, 2010 and winning the outstanding graduate award.  He then transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his M.S. in mechanical engineering in 2012, M.A. in statistics in 2013, and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2015. His research interests lie in the design, modeling, and control of cyber-physical systems, with applications to healthcare, robotics, and manufacturing.

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As a Bisgrove scholar, Dr. Zhang will conduct research on the modeling and control of large-scale and human-involved cyber-physical systems. Specifically he will work on a networked gait rehabilitation system that integrates wireless body sensor network, wearable rehabilitation robots, cloud computing, data management, and machine learning techniques. With the proposed system, patients could perform gait exercise at home, and therapists could evaluate patients’ gait changes remotely and more accurately.   Beyond healthcare, the design framework proposed in this work could benefit the development of other large-scale manufacturing, transportation, and energy systems. Dr. Zhang will conduct this research under the mentorship of senior faculty in Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering including Prof. Thomas Sugar, Prof. Sangram Redkar, Prof. Marco Santello, and Prof. Ann McKenna.

2015 Bisgrove Scholars

Heather N. Emady Early Tenure Track Faculty, Arizona State University (ASU) Heather N. Emady, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Arizona State University’s (ASU) School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy (SEMTE). A Phoenix area native, Dr. Emady received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2007 from the University of Arizona. From 2007 to 2012, she attended Purdue University where she made important contributions to the particle technology field and earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering.

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She conducted industrially relevant postdoctoral work first as a Postdoctoral Researcher for Procter & Gamble, and then as a Co-Instructor and Postdoctoral Associate at Rutgers School of Engineering, where she worked with large consortiums and centers focused on particle technology research in the catalyst and pharmaceutical areas. In 2015, Dr. Emady joined the faculty at SEMTE where she combines her passions for particle technology research, teaching and outreach promoting engineering as a career option to women and other underrepresented groups. As a Bisgrove Scholar, Dr. Emady’s work will focus on powder and particulate science, which are used by many industries, including mining, pharmaceuticals, food, detergents, biomass and more to manufacture a variety of products. Under the mentorship of Professor Jerry Lin, Dr. Emady will research the fundamentals, processes and applications for powder and particulate process and product design. She will aim to produce designer particles, with uniform, predictable properties, while uncovering the fundamental science behind the nature of particulate materials. This cross-disciplinary science is critically important as powders and particles are the basic materials of so many industries, yet little is known on how they interact. Dr. Emady will direct her research applications toward minerals and biomass, two sectors relevant to Arizona.

Owen Hildreth Early Tenure Track Faculty, Arizona State University (ASU) Owen Hildreth, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy (SEMTE). Dr. Hildreth earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego in 2002, and his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012. Before pursuing his Doctorate, Owen worked from 2002 to 2007 as a mechanical engineer, designing consumer products.

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As a Bisgrove Scholar, Dr. Hildreth’s research will focus on nano-inkjet printing (3-D printing): seeking to dramatically simplify techniques for micro-scale and nano scale fabrication by developing new chemistries to enable technicians to directly “print” complete devices using inkjet-style printers. Dr. Hildreth is motivated by the principle that people can do amazing things when given access to affordable, easy-to-use tools. The goal of Dr. Hildreth’s research is to enable small businesses to develop their own products at 1/1000 the cost of current cleanroom-based techniques. Under the mentorship of Dr. Terry Alsford at ASU, Owen will develop and improve reactive inks for printing copper, glass (SiO2), and nickel for applications in electronics manufacturing, photovoltaics and medical sensors, all of which are vital to Arizona industries.

Candace R. Lewis Post-Doctoral Scholar, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Candace R. Lewis, Ph.D., is currently a graduate research associate at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Department of Psychology. A native of Wasilla, Alaska, Dr. Lewis earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage. From 2010 to 2015, Candace pursued graduate studies at ASU on a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, earning a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience. She is a past recipient of numerous research grants and awards. In her career, Candace hopes to help unravel the molecular mechanisms by which experiences can shape neurobiology and behavior.

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Dr. Lewis also recently won a Fulbright Scholarship, which will enable her to receive advanced neuroimaging training at University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, under the guidance of Dr. Franz X. Vollenweider, vice director of research and head of basic and clinical neuropsychopharmacology, and Dr. Rainer Krähenmann, psychiatrist and project leader of clinical studies, basic and clinical neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Lewis will spend her time as a Bisgrove Scholar at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and in the Psychology department at ASU, studying the complex interplay between early life environment, genetic regulation and expression, and behavioral outcomes. Through her research, under the mentorship of Dr. Matt Huentelman, Dr. Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant and Dr. Leah Doane, Dr. Lewis aims to advance understanding of psychiatric vulnerability, and to inform novel individualized biomarkers, preventions and therapies.

Sara Parker Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Arizona (UA) Sara Parker is a fourth-year doctoral student under Dr. Jean Wilson at the University of Arizona, where she will earn her doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Her graduate work investigates the role of cellular polarity, or the shape and structure of cells, in health outcomes. Ms. Parker’s commitment to advancing biology began at Arizona State University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology in 2007. She went on to work as a technician in a Phoenix clinical research organization before returning for her doctorate. She is the recipient of numerous research fellowships and awards.

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As a Bisgrove Scholar, Sara will work under the guidance of mentors Dr. Konrad Zinsmaier and Dr. Ghassan Mouneimne at the University of Arizona, researching genes suspected of being able to remodel or re-wire neural circuitry, and the potential role of these genes in complex neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disability.  Life experiences, like learning a new skill or forming a memory, continuously re-wire neural circuitry. This plasticity occurs at the synapse, the communication interface between neurons in the brain. Sara’s work will pair basic science with translational medicine to identify how synaptic remodeling genes are involved in neural plasticity in health and disease, enhance understanding of synapse biology, and progress towards targeted therapies for healing the brain.

Yuji Zhao Early Tenure Track Faculty, Arizona State University (ASU) Yuji Zhao, Ph.D., is currently an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. His research focuses on the development of semiconductor devices such as LEDs, lasers and power transistors for improving energy efficiency, communication and biomedical applications. After receiving a B.S. in Microelectronics in 2008 from Fudan University in Shanghai, Dr. Zhao earned his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering under the mentorship of Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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As a Bisgrove Scholar, Yuji and his team will develop “smart” LEDs (light emitting diodes) for energy efficiency, wireless communications and medical applications. Their devices will be 10 times smaller and 10 times brighter than conventional devices. Dr. Zhao will focus his research in three areas: Droop-Free LEDs (LEDs designed to maintain their efficiency at higher electric currents), “Li-Fi” Communication, and LED use for wound healing. LED-based “Li-Fi” communication technology is envisioned to replace existing Wi-Fi technology. Compared to the limited radio frequency spectrum in Wi-Fi, Li-Fi communication uses visible spectrum and is 10,000 times larger in capacity. Dr. Zhao will conduct his research at ASU, under the mentorship of Professor David J. Smith, Dr. Yong Hang Zhang and Dr. Steve Philips.

2014 Bisgrove Scholars

Rachel Rowe Post-Doctoral Scholar, Phoenix Children’s Hospital A native of southeastern KY, Dr. Rachel Rowe earned her B.S. in Pre-Medical Sciences from Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond, KY) on an academic scholarship. She then went on to complete the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine before joining the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology in conjunction with the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center to pursue her doctoral studies.

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Dr. Rowe completed her doctoral degree working with Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz investigating the role of sleep following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Her Bisgrove Scholarship will assist her in her post-doctoral studies focused on endocrine dysfunction following diffuse brain injury at the Translational Neurotrauma research group, Phoenix Children’s Hospital. This is a multi-institutional project that includes University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, BARROW Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and the Phoenix Veteran Affairs Healthcare System. The data from the planned experiments will help outline the pathological processes associated with TBI-induced endocrine dysfunction facilitating diagnostic testing and help with the development of therapeutic approaches that can improve the lives of individuals living with TBI.

Cody Routson Post-Doctoral Scholar, Northern Arizona University (NAU) Cody Routson grew up on a small farm outside Prescott, Arizona, attending Yavapai and Prescott Colleges for his under graduate education. His family’s livelihood was directly influenced by annual rainfall, summer temperatures, and the timing of late spring and early fall freezes, and he came to understand the implications of climate vulnerability at an early age.  

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Later, while conducting rangeland surveys across the Southwest, he documented the impacts of a decade-long drought on the natural vegetation and on the livelihoods of ranching families. These experiences inspired him to pursue a career focused on characterizing regional and global climate to help increase society’s resilience and ability to adapt to climate change. Cody currently working to complete his PhD at the University of Arizona, UA, under the guidance of Drs. Jonathan Overpeck, Institute for the Environment and Connie Woodhouse, Geography and Regional Development Department will transfer for his post doctoral work to Northern Arizona University.  There with the support of the Bisgrove Scholarship and mentorship by Dr. Darrell Kaufman he will study Northern Hemisphere climate drivers, including Arctic weather patterns and sea ice fluctuation as arctic sea-ice loss has major implications for both local and hemispheric climate. This work will help characterize the risk of extreme events and inform adaptation strategies to cope with climate change. Cody a recipient of both National Science Foundation and Science Foundation Arizona Graduate research fellowships will begin his term as a Bisgrove Scholar later this year.

Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, MBBS Early Tenure Track Faculty, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Dr. Murtaza, who has already completed dual degrees in medicine and surgery will begin his Bisgrove Fellowship as an early tenure track scholar jointly appointed at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix and the Mayo Clinic, Arizona.

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He will complete his graduate studies at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, England and received his medical degrees from Aga Khan University in Pakistan. Murtaza’s graduate work focused on developing blood tests for cancer patients, sequencing and analyzing DNA fragments in blood plasma that are shed by a tumor and carry the same mutations as the cancer itself. In groundbreaking papers published in Nature and the New England Journal of medicine among others, this work provided proof-of-principle results for using circulating tumor-specific DNA to measure changes in tumor burden in a patient and to understand how cancers evolve in response to treatment. At TGen and the Mayo Clinic Murtaza is co-leading the setup of a Program in Circulating Nucleic Acids, expanding his current work to pursue clinical application of circulating tumor DNA analysis. With support from the Bisgrove Scholars Fellowship, he will apply methods in genomics and bioinformatics to develop a better understanding of circulating nucleic acids in canine cancer. This could potentially lead to circulating DNA-based cancer blood tests for human patients, as well as for dogs with cancer, allowing better disease tracking and more informed treatment decisions.  

2013 Bisgrove Scholars

Pablo de Gracia Post-Doctoral Scholar, Barrow Neurological Institute Pablo de Gracia holds a double major in physics and optometry, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where he graduated top of his class. He then completed his PhD also in Madrid, Spain at the Visual Optics and Biophotonics Laboratory, Instituto de Optics, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas.

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To-date he has 11 publications in top-tier peer-reviewed, high-impact journals, in addition to three international patents, two of which are fully issued.  Pablo’s impressive productivity and research success has been rewarded with national and international honors including the SPIE Scholarship in Optics and Photonics, from the International Society for Optics and Photonics to a doctoral student for outstanding outreach performance and the Irvin M. Borish-William C. Ezell Award and Mike Daly-William C. Ezell awards from the American Academy of Optometry, for outstanding research performance. Pablo’s Bisgrove scholarship enables him to move to the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at Barrow Neurological Institute, and with his mentor Dr. Stephen Macknik he will study the distinctive characteristics of micro saccadic eye movements in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This project has the potential to improve noninvasive early and differential diagnosis of AD, as well as the evaluation of standard and novel therapeutic approaches.  In addition to the research component of scholarship significant effort will be directed to gaining exposure and training in cutting-edge and multidisciplinary techniques and research approaches and training in successful dissemination of scientific knowledge to a diverse public audience. 

Amanda Maple Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Arizona, School of Medicine (UA) Amanda Maple, post-doctoral scholar, completed her Ph.D. in psychology and behavioral neuroscience at Arizona State University (ASU) and a M.A., Experimental Psychology at East Tennessee State University.  She has presented her research at national and international conferences and published multiple papers in peer-reviewed journals.

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Her time as a Bisgrove scholar will be spent at the University of Arizona, UA Medical School-Phoenix studying pharmacological manipulations of the nucleus accumbens, a brain region implicated in schizophrenia.  Amanda’s passion for her subject and quest to find better treatment and ultimately a cure for schizophrenia and related psychological disorders comes from time spent volunteering at a schizophrenia clinic in Ohio and working as a family counselor at Youth Villages, Johnson City, Tennessee, where she got to see first hand how inadequate for many people current treatments are for these debilitating diseases. At UA Amanda will join the laboratory of Dr. Amelia Galitano to focus on genotyping analysis and be advised by Dr. Breitborde, Department of Psychiatry on clinical implementation.  

Christopher Johnson Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Arizona (UA) Christopher Johnson, post-doctoral scholar, completed his PhD at UCLA and his BS, UA, both in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research interest is in the use of mathematics to decipher the actions and interactions of the natural world and while many people are put off by the complexity of the topic Christopher has a specific interest in translating the science for a broader audience. 

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Christopher has been described by this mentors as highly creative and motivated and has traveled the world working, studying and teaching in Mongolia, Australia, Ireland, Panama and Mexico. While in Kenya he initiated a water bird conservation program for threatened greater flamingos. Working with Drs. Judith Bronstein and Regis Ferriere at UA, he will utilize his Bisgrove scholarship to investigate the role of competition for benefits in mutualist coexistence using ant-cactus mutualism native to the Sonoran Desert. Here he will explore the mechanisms promoting ant species coexistence and develop a more general theoretical framework for incorporating competition for benefits within the communities. From an applied perspective, this research develops a conceptual framework for informing conservation strategies for Arizona’s indigenous species. 

Alexander Kirk Post-Doctoral Scholar, Arizona State University (ASU) Alexander Kirk, post-doctoral scholar, holds a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas, Dallas and a masters degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M. In addition to his successful academic career Alexander has worked in design and mechanical engineering roles within industry.

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This varied experience in both theoretical and applied engineering will be brought to bear as he now focuses on the development of ultrathin high efficiency multi-junction solar cells. Alexander will be guided in his research by his mentor Dr. Yong Hang Zhang, School of Electrical, Computing and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University (ASU) collaborating with the Department of Physics and a number of industry partners to maximize the power density and power conversion efficiency of the cells helping continue drive the cost of solar energy down so it can become a mainstream alternative source of electricity.

Carole-Jean Wu Early Tenure Track Scholar, Arizona State University (ASU) Carole-Jean Wu, early tenure track scholar, holds a PhD from Princeton University in architectural thermal energy recovery, transformation, and harvesting in computer systems. She recently joined the faculty of the School of Computing, Informatics & Decision System Engineering, ASU, as an assistant professor.  

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Wu’s strong fundamental background in computer architecture and experience at Intel, IBM and Google coupled with her Bisgrove scholarship will enable her to build her research team and focus on exploring novel and innovative strategies for harvesting this energy in the development of more sustainable computing, and continue Moore’s Law, effectively turning a thermal problem into an opportunity by generating electricity from thermal gradients.  Wu notes that during her internship at Intel she was constantly challenged by her industry mentors to refine her designs and optimize for performance, minimized complexity, energy efficiency and cost and her goal is to apply a similar discipline to future work.

2012 Bisgrove Scholars

Melanie B. Channon Post-Doctoral Scholar, Arizona State University (ASU) Melanie B. Channon completed her graduate work in geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, after obtaining her bachelor’s in geological sciences summa cum laude from Arizona State University (ASU).

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Her research thus far has focused on exploring the extent and significance of water on Mars by studying Martian meteorites. In part thanks to the guidance of her past and present mentors, including Dr. David Bell at ASU and Drs. John Eiler and Ed Stolper at Caltech, she has become an expert bench scientist and data analyst. Now she is ready to use these skills for the good of biomedical sciences and is interested in devising more accurate methods to monitor bone loss in patients with cancer affecting the skeletal system. Recent research has shown that changes in abundance of the different forms of calcium in urine can be used to measure bone loss in humans. X-Ray technology does not detect bone loss until significant damage has already occurred and biochemical markers can only evaluate the presence of proteins associated with bone destruction and formation, but cannot determine the direction or magnitude of changes in the net bone mineral balance. Melanie is planning a highly creative collaboration between researchers at ASU and the Mayo Clinic to monitor disease progression in patients suffering from breast cancer, which often metastasizes to bone and multiple myeloma, a bone marrow based cancer. Her primary mentor is Dr. Ariel Anbar, professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration and in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at ASU, who is performing NASA-funded work on the effect of microgravity on bone loss. Her complementary mentors are: Dr. Rafael Fonseca, Deputy Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, co-Director of the Hematologic Malignancies Program, and a professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic; Dr Anna Barker, director of ASU’s Transformative Healthcare Networks, co-director of Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative, and a professor in the School of Life Sciences at ASU; and Dr. Paul Davies, principal investigator of the Center for Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and co-director of the Cosmology Initiative at ASU. Her mentors describe Melanie as a sharp, intellectually curious researcher with outstanding technical competence and communication skills.

Sarah J. Leung Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Arizona (UA) Sarah J. Leung completed her graduate work in biomedical engineering at the University of Arizona (U of A),  after obtaining a Bachelor’s in bioengineering at Arizona State University, both with a perfect GPA.

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Over the past several decades, researchers have been testing the viability of using gold nanoparticles, tiny specks of the precious metal, to deliver medicines or discover abnormal cells. Gold nanospecks can move through blood vessels or human tissues. The focus of Sarah’s graduate work was to use light-activated versions of these nanoparticles so that the exact timing and location of therapeutic delivery could be controlled, allowing for precise treatment and preservation of healthy tissue. She also used this material in the development of a platform technology to decipher early cell-signaling events that lead to diseases such as cancer. This may enable the development of more effective diagnostic and treatment modalities, greatly improving disease prognosis. Her post-doctoral research will investigate early physiological indicators of colon cancer and different preventative and treatment strategies for the disease.  She will do so by developing advanced imaging systems and the nanoparticle contrast agents needed to visualize the earliest stages of colon cancer, and then test the currently accepted but controversial paradigm for development of this disease, i.e., very early abnormalities called aberrant crypt foci lead to adenoma (benign tumors), which then lead to adenocarcinoma (malignant tumors). Her primary mentor is Dr. Jennifer Barton, Professor and Head in Biomedical Engineering and Assistant Director of the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona and secondary mentors are Drs. Peter Lance and Eugene Gerner. Dr. Lance is professor of medicine, molecular and cellular biology and public health at the U of A College of Medicine; and Dr. Gerner is director of the Arizona Cancer Center’s GI Program and the National Cancer Institute-funded Specialized Program of Research Excellence in GI Cancers. Sarah is described by her mentors as brilliant and someone who approaches each challenge with a straightforward and confident manner. “When Sarah is involved, things just seems to work and high quality data come pouring out.”

Xi Zhang Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Arizona (UA) Xi Zhang completed his graduate work in planetary science at the California Institute of Technology. He did his undergraduate work in space physics at Peking University, a world-class university in China. Even as a graduate student, Xi Zhang’s publication record is impressive and includes prestigious journals such as Nature Geosciences.

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His primary interest is climate science and how aerosols present in the atmosphere of planets influence long-term weather trends. Xi’s proposed research will tackle a number of key unsolved problems related to the atmospheric structure and circulation of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Apart from the obvious benefits of helping the scientific community understand the many factors influencing climate change on earth, his work will build upon the great astronomy resources available in Arizona. Xi Zhang joined the Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) at the University of Arizona. LPL is home to world-leading researchers from a variety of backgrounds, including physics, astronomy, geosciences, chemistry and engineering. LPL’s interdisciplinary expertise covers telescopes, spacecraft, extraterrestrial materials like meteorites or simulating conditions on planets, and the theory behind these all. His primary mentor is Dr. Adam Showman, professor of Lunar and Planetary Sciences.  Dr. Showman is the leading scientist in the world on atmospheric dynamics of giant planets and planets outside the solar system. His complementary mentors are Drs. Roger Yelle, professor in Planetary Science, who is a world expert on radiative transfer and chemistry in planetary atmospheres, and Robert Brown, professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the principal investigator of the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS), which is a remote sensing instrument onboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. In the word of one of his mentors, Xi Zhang is in “the top 5% or better of all planetary science graduate students in terms of overall abilities and potential.” Xi’s combination of intelligence, initiative, creativity, and energy suggest that he will do extremely well in his future career. He is positioning himself as a major player in the field of planetary atmospheres, and serving as a Bisgrove Scholar at the University of Arizona will empower him to attack a range of problems that is both wide and deep.

Deborah N. Huntzinger Early Tenure Track Faculty, North Arizona University (NAU) Deborah N. Huntzinger, Ph.D. is a tenure-track assistant professor at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in the newly formed School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability. Dr. Huntzinger completed her graduate degrees in geological engineering at Michigan Technological University and the Colorado School of Mines. Prior to coming to NAU, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan where she worked on evaluating and comparing model estimates of land-atmosphere carbon exchange.

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Dr. Huntzinger’s current research interests are focused on improving our understanding of the contemporary and future carbon cycles, and identifying practical greenhouse gas and climate change mitigation solutions. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have led to a substantial increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. As a result, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is now one third higher than it was during the eighteenth century and significantly greater than at any time during the past 100,000 years. Because of its importance as a greenhouse gas, there is growing concern that the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration will cause significant warming, sea-level rise, and changes in the timing, intensity, and distribution of precipitation events globally.  In addition to her work on improving understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle, Dr. Huntzinger is interested in identifying and designing cost-effective pathways for reducing carbon emissions at their source. Even as a young scientist, she has an outstanding record of service. She is a member of several working groups focused on improving terrestrial ecosystem models and is leading a large multidisciplinary research project aimed at improving our understanding of how carbon is exchanged between the land and the atmosphere. These types of collaborative efforts will help improve predictions of how natural systems will respond to human activities and future climate change. She is also an accomplished teacher and in her own words, one of her main goals “is to be an excellent mentor to future scientists and engineers, and to bring research into the classroom.”

Wade D. Van Horn Early Tenure Track Faculty, Arizona State University (ASU) Wade D. Van Horn, Ph.D. was recruited to Arizona State University (ASU) as tenure track faculty after a post-doctoral appointment at Vanderbilt University, where he studied the biology and biophysics of proteins in cell membranes. Dr. Van Horn completed his graduate and undergraduate studies in Chemistry at The University of Utah and Brigham Young University, respectively, and he is currently finishing his post-doctoral studies in biochemistry and structural biology.

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Dr. Van Horn’s current research interests are the study of the structure and function of membrane proteins. The most important processes in all living cells, such as respiration, photosynthesis, cell communications, cell import and export, cell growth and recognition take place with the help of membrane proteins. The proteins do not act on their own, but they communicate within cells by binding, releasing and transmitting signals to other proteins. In order to increase our knowledge in this area and improve the way drugs are designed, Dr. Van Horn will visualize protein structure by studying the magnetic properties of the atoms they contain. These properties depend on the composition and arrangement of the molecules that these atoms form as well as on their surroundings. The techniques he will use to study membrane proteins will complement others that are currently in use at ASU and rely on X-rays. His research program will also synergize with several initiatives at ASU, promising stimulus for writing highly collaborative grant proposals. It is expected that Dr. Van Horn will join the Membrane Protein and Infectious Diseases Center funded by the National Health Institute and headed by Dr. Petra Fromme, Professor in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at ASU. Dr. Van Horn will also become member of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Medicine led by Dr. Joshua Labaer Director of Personalized diagnostics at the Biodesign Institute of ASU. Dr. Van Horn has a strong background in teaching as well. He has been teaching since he was an undergraduate and received the Garth L. Lee teaching award.  At the time, he was also acting as manager of the Chemistry Department Lecture Demonstration Laboratory at Brigham Young University, and he used to arrange for chemical experiments to be demonstrated to K-12 children who attended schools that could not afford the equipment. Dr. Van Horn is currently preparing an application to the National Science Foundation that will include a framework for interfacing directly with low income K-12 students in the Phoenix area.

2011 Bisgrove Scholar

Ophelia Wang Post-Doctoral Scholar, Northern Arizona University (NAU) Dr. Wang became the first Bisgrove Postdoctoral Scholar in 2011. The Bisgrove fund has supported her to pursue training and career development opportunities of non-profit conservation leadership, such as Certificate of Professional Achievement in Nonprofit Management at the Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University and Conservation Leadership Practicum at Monterey Institute of International Studies. Dr. Wang obtained her Adjunct Faculty status at NAU in 2011 and has supervised undergraduate and graduate students who are supported by the Wyss Conservation Scholarship, NAU/NASA Space Grant Scholarship and NAU Global Learning Research Scholarship. She aims to integrate her skills in geospatial techniques for conservation biology and her advancement in Bisgrove career training towards developing biodiversity conservation consulting opportunities in Arizona.  

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Dr. Wang began working as a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Lab of Landscape Ecology and Conservation Biology at NAU in 2010. Her postdoctoral projects consist of a multidisciplinary project of integrated spatial models of non-native plant invasion, fire risk and wildlife habitat to support conservation of military and adjacent lands in the arid Southwest, funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program at the Department of Defense. In addition, she participates in a project using time series remote sensing approach to map fine fuels in the Sonoran Desert ecosystems, funded by the Joint Fire Science Program. Her other projects include vegetation mapping in the Kane and Two Mile Ranches in northern Arizona, remote sensing analysis of deforestation patterns in relation to drug activities in Honduras, and conservation prioritization and reforestation recommendations in Nicaragua based on land use and land cover change analysis.
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