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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

8 young researchers receive NSF CAREER awards

nsfcareer_award_graphics_FA.compressed (3).pdfEight young faculty researchers have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development awards for projects starting in 2016.

The grant awards, known as CAREER awards, have a combined value of more than $5.9 million and represent the most CAREER award winners in a single year for Carolina.

“These awards represent the future of UNC,” said Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research. “The projects themselves reflect the scholarly diversity and excellence of our institution. That we have eight NSF CAREER award winners this year is a testament to Carolina’s national leadership in research.”

The 2016 awardees, from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Information and Library Sciences and the School 06nsflogoof Education, are:

  • Robert Capra, assistant professor of information and library science;
  • Eric Brustad, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • James Cahoon, assistant professor of chemistry
  • Leslie Hicks, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • Nicholas Law, assistant professor of physics and astronomy;
  • Alexander Miller, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • Kihyun “Kelly” Ryoo, assistant professor of learning sciences; and
  • Justin Sawon, associate professor of mathematics.


The CAREER award is the NSF’s most esteemed recognition for junior faculty members conducting scientific research. The awards support the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the missions of their institutions.

Under Magnuson’s leadership, the UNC Office of Research Development has made expansion of NSF research funding and projects a goal for the University and has helped support young faculty in their pursuit of awards such as CAREER grants. The office recently created an on-campus learning community to connect prospective awardees with expertise of senior NSF-funded faculty, proposal support and peer mentoring. “The increased number of CAREER awards this year is a terrific early outcome of our new NSF Learning Community,” said Eliana Perrin, associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Office of Research Development. “In time, we expect to see a vibrant community of NSF scholars who work together, share resources, and celebrate in each other’s successes. It’s always great to secure nearly $6 million in new funding for research in North Carolina, and the contribution to science is, as they say, priceless.”

Scientists at Carolina oversee nearly $1 billion worth of research activity, placing Carolina in the top 10 of all research universities in the country. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research oversees this enterprise by providing services ranging from identifying a grant opportunity to managing proposals and awards. The Office of Research Development supports the broader mission of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research by connecting faculty ideas with funding trends and opportunities.