Four CUNY Assistant Professors Win NSF’s Early-Career Awards

April 21, 2017 | The University

In a reflection of the University’s commitment to hiring and supporting the research of talented new faculty, four City University of New York assistant professors will receive the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for early-career faculty of exceptional promise. The awards come with grants totaling almost $2.3 million to support their development as “outstanding researchers and educators.”

The NSF’s Early Career Development (CAREER) award, bestowed this year on faculty from Baruch College, City College and The College of Staten Island, recognizes “early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization,” according to the foundation. “Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.”

CUNY’s Chancellor, James B. Milliken, said, “These awards offer a wonderful endorsement of our efforts to bring talented new faculty to CUNY on a regular basis. What is particularly important is that our students benefit from their research and skills. I congratulate these award winners and look forward to seeing the results of their exciting work.”

The CAREER award is the most prestigious honor the NSF bestows on early-career, tenure-track assistant professors, who are required to submit proposals for research projects in which they are the principal investigators. In the 2016 competition for this year’s awards, CUNY had 21 applicants.

The four CUNY scholars honored by the NSF CAREER program this year are:

  • Hysell Oviedo, assistant professor of biology at City College, who is expected to receive $725,642 in NSF funding. Her CAREER project, Mechanisms of Lateralized Auditory Processing, focuses on how the left and right sides of the brain differentially process sounds important for listening to the environment and communicating with others.
  • Sarang Gopalakrishnan, assistant professor of physics at the College of Staten Island, awarded $484,348 by the NSF. His CAREER project, Quantum Many-Body Physics Beyond the Boltzmann Paradigm, probes the behavior of large physical systems that are not reversible, meaning that the current state of complex systems becomes independent of the initial conditions. His research is novel and contrary to classical quantum physics theory.
  • Louis-Pierre Arguin, assistant professor of mathematics at Baruch College, granted an award of $446,046. His winning project, Statistics of Extrema in Complex and Disordered Systems, will provide a statistical analysis of the patterns of complex systems as driven by critical but rare events called extrema.
  • Jean Gaffney, assistant professor of chemistry at Baruch College, expected to receive $636,977 in funding. Her NSF project, Discovery of Tunable Fluorescent Proteins from Marine Organisms: Integrating Education and Research in the Identification and Development of Novel Fluorescent Probes, explores the chemistry of fluorescent proteins from marine organisms and their applications for basic and biomedical research as molecular markers.

The intent of the NSF program, which grants awardees at least $400,000 for the five-year duration of the award, “is to provide stable support at a sufficient level and duration to enable awardees to develop careers as outstanding researchers and educators who effectively integrate teaching, learning and discovery,” according to the foundation.