Physicist Carl Rodriguez Named 2022 Sloan Fellow
Carl Rodriguez, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and member of the McWilliams Center for Cosmology, is among 118 recipients of 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor early career scholars whose achievements put them among the very best scientific minds today. Rodriguez’s work focuses on the dynamics and evolution of stars and star clusters, and what the gravitational waves they create can tell us about stars and galaxies across cosmic time.
Sudoc Recognized as Promising Startup
Sudoc, a startup co-founded by Carnegie Mellon chemists Terrence Collins and Ryan Sullivan, has been named one of 10 Startups to watch by Chemical & Engineering News. The startup also won Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards, which are awarded annually for generating innovation for the benefit of society and the planet. Sudoc is developing and commercializing TAML catalysts, a bio-inspired, environmentally friendly molecule that outperforms toxic chemicals in a wide range of applications and can be used to remove pollutants from the natural and built environment.
Mathematician Irene Fonseca Recognized by International Science Community
Irene Fonseca, the Kavčić-Moura University Professor of Mathematics and director of the Center for Nonlinear Analysis, has received the International Society for the Interaction of Mechanics and Mathematics Senior Prize. She received the award for her outstanding contributions to the calculus of variations and the mathematics of materials science, along with her exemplary service to the mathematical community and for being an inspirational mentor and role model for female mathematicians. Fonseca also was recently elected as a 2021 fellow of the European Academy of Sciences.
Two Math Faculty Win NSF CAREER Awards
Mathematical Sciences’ Associate Professor Florian Frick and Assistant Professor Franziska Weber received CAREER Awards from the National Science Foundation. These prestigious grants are designed to support promising research by early career faculty. With his work on geometric and topological combinatorics, Frick is attempting to solve problems across mathematics by artificially translating these problems into a geometric situation. Weber combines tools from mathematical and numerical analysis and probability to design mathematically sound algorithms to simulate applications in fluid dynamics and material sciences, including areas where fluids are subject to magnetic fields.
Exosome Engineering Tech Licensed to Coya Therapeutics
Coya Therapeutics, Inc. has optioned the rights to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize exosome polymer hybrids using the platform developed by an interdisciplinary team of Carnegie Mellon chemists and engineers. By engineering exosomes with a DNA-cholesterol tether, doctoral candidates Sushil Lathwal and Saigopalakrishna (Sai) Yerneni, together with professors Subha Das, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Phil Campbell, have created a method that Coya plans to use to develop exosome-polymer hybrids that will enable exosomes to be used as drug delivery vehicles that home to proteins of interest, while delivering select payloads to targeted cells.
Two Chemistry Faculty Named Among World’s Most Highly Cited Researchers
Chemistry Professor Rongchao Jin and Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, the J.C. Warner Professor of Natural Sciences, were listed among the most cited researchers in the field of chemistry by Clarivate Analytics. Researchers make the list if their research publications were in the top one percent of the most cited papers for their subject field and year and listed in the Web of Science Group indexing platform operated by Clarivate Analytics.
CLINTON CONLEY RECEIVES THE JULIUS ASHKIN AWARD
Clinton Conley’s undergraduate courses are in such high demand that students will regularly go on waitlists to try to get into one of his classes, often pleading to be registered. It’s not hard to see why. He challenges students with interesting and difficult problems, and he brings out the best in them.
“By the time the lecture is over, I feel like my understanding of the concept was solid, and it didn’t seem that hard at all,” wrote a student in support of Conley’s nomination for the Julius Ashkin Award for Excellence in Teaching. “Teaching this beautiful and effective makes Carnegie Mellon the top-tier institution that it is.”
Conley, associate professor of mathematical sciences, has taught courses that span a wide range of the Mathematical Sciences catalog, successfully bringing his deep knowledge of set theory, logic, algebra and general mathematics to the classroom, inspiring students to think at the highest level. Fellow Julius Ashkin award winner Professor John Mackey wrote in support of Conley’s nomination: “While I have more teaching experience, I have learned a great deal from Clinton and continue to grow as an instructor through teaching alongside him.”
“What amazes me the most about his teaching is his creativity. While dealing with topics at incredibly high levels of abstraction, Professor Conley is able to find unique, effective and engaging ways to delineate and explain, using everything from sound effects, embarrassing anecdotes, cartoons and hand motions,” wrote a student.
Conley’s students and colleagues praise his lectures as meticulously prepared and delivered — with fantastic board work that is clean and easy to follow — and his office is frequently filled with undergraduate students.
“He not only teaches the material well, but he also provides abundant help and encouragement,” wrote one of his students. As a 2019 alumnus puts it: “I always felt that Professor Conley was committed to my success as a growing and well-rounded mathematician, and I still feel that way after graduation.”
CARRIE DOONAN RECEIVES THE RICHARD MOORE AWARD
The new, award-winning Biological Sciences course “Frontiers in Analysis and Discovery” is a perfect example of Carrie Doonan’s vision for how to motivate, excite and educate budding scientists. First-year students in the class gain valuable laboratory research experience and get to work with juniors and interact with faculty, many of whom the students would not otherwise meet until their junior and senior years. This approach gives students something invaluable — a sense of belonging at MCS.
“Community building is a strong theme in all of Carrie’s work,” wrote Biological Sciences Department Head Veronica Hinman in nominating Doonan for the Richard Moore Award.
Doonan, a teaching professor and director of undergraduate laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, has been at the forefront of advances in curriculum and course development since she joined the department. Over the years Doonan has revised the 300-level lab courses to ensure that they provide instruction in current topics and skills in a way that also develops students’ ability to think critically and to hone their analytical, problem-solving and data analysis abilities. The bar was raised for Doonan during the past two years when the pandemic forced the labs to pivot to online and hybrid modes.
“Carrie, and the teaching lab team, put in a herculean effort to safely offer in-person lab courses and provide remote instruction to ensure that students could continue to their degrees on time without sacrificing critical hands-on laboratory training and experience,” wrote Hinman.
Doonan’s work doesn’t stop with the lab courses. She serves on the committee for the undergraduate experience, providing advice on many courses beyond the labs as well as evaluating new courses and assessments. She mentors and supports teaching faculty, offering guidance as they develop required courses, elective lab courses and masters-level courses. She advises neuroscience majors, mentors many biology majors and manages a team of undergraduates who work as lab TAs.
“Carrie’s impact extends among all students, faculty and alumni and into the broader community,” Hinman added.
■ Amy Laird