Considered to be one of the NSF’s most prestigious honors bestowed, the CAREER award is presented by the Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, and it is presented to early-career faculty members who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department,” according to the NSF’s description.
Dr. Nicholas Kooyers, Dr. James Nelson, and Dr. Mohsen Amini Salehi are the recipients of the distinguished award, and they are all faculty members of UL Lafayette’s Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. Dr. Azmy S. Ackleh is the dean of the college, and he remarked on the prestige of the award by saying, “this is one of the most prestigious funding awards early-career faculty can get. It shows the caliber of faculty we have in the College of Sciences. They are leaders in their respective disciplines and their ideas make them competitive at the national level.”
The National Science Foundation first presented the CAREER award in 1995 as a way to support the outstanding efforts of junior faculty members who epitomize the role of a teacher-scholar in their education and research. The award is presented annually alongside a federal grant for research and education activities, both of which are dispersed over five years. The NSF is an independent federal agency that provides funding for nearly 25 percent of federally-supported research that is conducted by American colleges and Universities.
Dr. Kooyers and Dr. Nelson are each assistant professors in the University’s Department of Biology and Dr. Salehi is an assistant professor in the School of Computing and Informatics. Each CAREER award is accompanied by an NSF grant that is given to award recipients to further their research. Dr. Nicholas Kooyers will receive $997,269 to examine whether or not the effects of climate change can be countered through a process known as assisted migration. Dr. James Nelson will receive $688,849 to research climate change’s effects on coastal marsh ecosystems, specifically those in Louisiana. Dr. Mohsen Amini Salehi will receive a $513,000 grant to research the development of a domain-specific cloud platform for enhanced multimedia streaming.
Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, associate provost and vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at UL Lafayette remarked, “with the addition of Drs. Kooyers, Nelson, and Salehi to this roster of exceptional academic talent, our faculty members have now received the CAREER Award eight times since 2004. That’s undeniable evidence of the continued strength of our research mission and the dedicated faculty whose work animates it.”
While the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Sciences has had five CAREER Award recipients before 2021, this year makes it the first time multiple NSF honors were bestowed to faculty members in a single year. UL Lafayette’s past recipients were Dr. Sheng Chen, a 2018 honoree; Dr. Danella Zhao, 2011; Dr. Miao Jin, 2009; Dr. Dmitri Perkins, 2005; and Dr. Hongyi Wu, 2004.
Receiving the honor that is a CAREER award from the NSF is a highly-respected achievement by educational leaders in their respective schools, and it has a history of building a firm foundation for a career marked by leadership and the integration of both education and research. Recipients of the award are selected for the honor early in their career, making them the ideal academic role models of their respective educational institutions, and with three UL Lafayette faculty members receiving the honor this year, the future is looking bright.
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