Faculty Research Grants awarded for new research and scholarly connections

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Fifty-four members of UNC Charlotte’s faculty are recipients of 2022-23 Faculty Research Grants for pursuing new lines of research or establishing new scholarly collaborations. The grants are awarded through the Faculty Research Grants (FRG) program, the University’s signature seed grant initiative.

Selected from a total of 69 applications, the projects to be funded represent disciplines from the University’s seven academic colleges: 27 to FRG’s STEM track, 13 to the Arts and Humanities track and 29 to its Social Sciences, Business, Health and Education track. FRG, which offers opportunities for both newly appointed assistant professors and continuing faculty, allows individual projects a maximum budget of $8,000 each, including a stipend of up to $4,200. Joint proposals are funded up to $16,000 each with a maximum stipend of $8,400.

“Faculty Research Grants offer exciting, new ideas a jump start toward becoming well-defined, purposeful research and collaborations,” said Rick Tankersley, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The most successful of these projects often provide the preliminary data needed for expansion and attract support from external funding sources. FRG is just one example of the University’s commitment to helping faculty hone their grant-seeking skills and providing funding opportunities for their ideas as momentum continues for our research enterprise.” 

Projects funded for an 18-month period beginning in 2022 are:


Biological Sciences

  • Dider Drau, Inflammation and the PD1-PDL1 axis in breast cancer progression
  • Morgan Johnson, Investigation of host cell cytokine directed changes in Neisseria meningitidis gene expression
  • Paola Lopez-Duarte, Entrainment of circatidal rhythms in an intertidal crab
  • Ian Marriott (Kiril Afonin, Chemistry, co-PI), Treatment of bone infections with nucleic acid nanoparticles
  • Bao-Hua Song, Developing environmentally friendly strategies for nematode management
  • Todd Steck (Way Sung, Bioinfromatics and Genomics, co-PI), Antibiotic collateral sensitivity networks in pathogenic Burkholderia
  • Tingting Xiang, A novel single-cell model system to discover genes that govern ciliate-algal symbiosis

Bioinformatics and Genomics

  • Rebekah Rogers, Genome sequencing for a freshwater bivalve under threat


  • Jordan Poler, Development of novel and sustainable water purification membrane materials

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Olya Keen (Mariya Munir, co-PI), Separation of unknown antibiotics from drinking water treatment byproducts

Computer Science

  • Wenhao Luo, Online self-verification and mitigation for provably safe and resilient multi-robot coordination
  • Harini Ramaprasad (Meera Sridhar, Software and Information Systems, co-PI), Engaged pedagogy for teaching applied formal methods

Engineering Technology & Construction Management

  • Omidreza Shogli, AI-enabled augmented reality for real-time condition assessment of highway infrastructure

Mathematics and Statistics

  • Eliana Christou, Quantifying risk using expectile regression
  • Yuanan Diao, Mathematics of physical knots
  • Loc Nguyen, A new Carleman-based method for the inverse scattering problem with application in detecting anti personnel devices buried under the ground

Mechanical Engineering & Engineering Science

  • Erina Joyee, Manufacturing of multimaterial hydrogel films with hierarchical surface structures for selective cell seeding
  • Artur Wolek, SwarmTank: A testbed for cooperative control of unmanned underwater vehicles 

Physical and Optical Sciences

  • Nathanial Fried, Surfactants for enhancing laser-induced vapor bubble dimensions during infrared lithotripsy


Languages and Culture

  • Christopher Mellinger, Translation in and through history: The case of Hispanic America


  • Gregory Mixon, Carolina’s militiamen, 1865-1898
  • Peter Thorsheim, Health and environmental consequences of chemical weapons in the United Kingdom


  • Miranora  Frisch, String music by Black composers
  • Jessica Lindsey, Record rediscovered and new works for clarinet by professional composers who are underrepresented 
  • Jeremy Marks, Record new trombone ensemble repertoire
  • Eric Millard, Palisade trumpet collective commissioning and recording project


  • Andrea Pitts, Latina/x abolitionist feminisms
  • Shannon Sullivan, The philosophy of cultural domination

Public Health Sciences

  • Jessamyn Bowling, Photos of a moving self: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender identity shifts
  • Lorenzo Hopper, Picture this: a photovoice study exploring mental health and the help-seeking behaviors of first-generation college students


  • Thomas Burch, New exploration in stage design for puppetry
  • Laura Waringer, Into the woods: A site-specific theatre experience



  • Sara Juengst, Foundations of power at Buen Suceso, Ecuador

Applied Physiology, Health and Clinical Services

  • Luke Donovan, Validation of a stability test and assessment of balance using a laser
  • Joseph Marino, The effect of concurrent exercise order on positive and negative affect

Biological Sciences

  • Kausik Chakrabarti, Defining the role of debranching enzyme (DBR1) in the mRNA surveillance pathway


  • Taryne Mingo, Elementary students of color racial identity perception and its impact on academic self-efficacy


  • Thomas Maycock (Kelly Vosters, co-PI), Parental move responses to changes in the behavior, characteristics and outcomes of their children’s peers

Geography and Earth Sciences

  • Heather Smith, Invisible immigrants: Canadian migration to the United States since 1990


  • Zitian Chen, Knowledge graph-based reasoning and inference (KG-BRAIN): A pilot use case in health care system performance management

Middle Grades, Secondary

  • Kristin Davin, Investigating the influence of pathway awards on seal of biliteracy attainment


  • Charlene Whitaker-Brown (Judith Cornelius, co-PI), A statewide assessment of North Carolina nurse practitioners’ knowledge of attitude toward suicide awareness and prevention

Political Science & Public  Administration

  • Mary Atkinson, News coverage of the 2020 Democratic primaries and its influence on voter preferences
  • Yaoyao Dai, Attributing policy influence and legislative effectiveness using text as data
  • Alexander Kustov, Emigration opportunities and government responsiveness
  • Zachary Mohr, (Jaclyn Piatak, ci-PI), Behavioral public administration omnibus study using a cooperative election study module
  • Benjamin Radford, From protest to tragedy: Violence escalation in space and time
  • Beth Whitaker, Ethnicity, borders and attitudes toward migration in Africa

Psychological Sciences

  • Alyssa McGonagle (Virginia Gil-Rivas, co-PI), Identifying work factors that promote self-management and work ability in workers with Type 2 Diabetes

Public Health Sciences

  • Samantha Cacace, Stigma against military service members and veterans among health care providers

Social Work

  • Othelia Lee, Adoptability of socially assistive humanoid robots for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia: A pilot study


  • Joseph Dippong, Transfer of status from task situations to informal social contexts
  • Candace Miller (Fushcia-Ann Hoover, Geography and Earth Sciences, co-PI), Green infrastructure and urban development
  • Stephanie Moller (Jill Yavorsky, co-PI), The impact of flexible work on worker perceptions, job satisfaction, mental and emotional health