A biologist, chemist, environmental engineer, and a biomedical engineer were recently recognized for their commitment to advancing the Virginia Tech’s research initiatives in interdisciplinary science. 

The Innovator Award, a new initiative jointly sponsored by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the Fralin Life Science Institute, recognizes outstanding faculty members and includes a $25,000 stipend to be used to advance innovative research projects and team-oriented science.

Recipients where recognized last month at the second annual Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Program Review. They are:

  • Lisa Belden, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science. Belden studies how ecological factors and environmental conditions influence disease dynamics in natural systems. Her recent work examines symbiotic microbes that live on amphibian skin, with the goal of using these microbes to battle a lethal skin fungus and contribute to the conservation of threatened amphibian species.
  • Rafael V. Davalos, associate professor in biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering. Davalos integrates biotransport, microscale physics, and bioelectrics to develop new methods to detect and treat cancer.
  • Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. Marr quantifies the impacts of atmospheric pollutants on humans and the environment. Her research group currently focuses on airborne transmission of infectious disease and assessment of risks associated with engineered nanoparticles.
  • Webster Santos, associate professor of bioorganic and medicinal chemistry in the College of Science. Santos develops simple and environmentally friendly methods to synthesize complex molecules that can be used for material science and medicine. In addition, his group is advancing small molecule drugs discovered in his laboratories that may lead to the treatment of cancer, inflammation, fibrosis, and HIV infection.

“ICTAS and Fralin have joined to recognize and reward some of our outstanding faculty in a way they did not anticipate,” said Dennis Dean, director of the Fralin Life Science Institute. “We have many terrific innovators at this university and by recognizing at least several such individuals on a recurring basis, we are sending the message that this university is aware of and appreciates innovation.  A special aspect of the group recognized this year is their very visible collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches.”

"By joining hands with the Fralin Life Science Institute, we are able to reward pioneering faculty members for their innovative and transformative research,” said Roop Mahajan, director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “It is important to show our appreciation for their continued success in meeting society's most challenging needs. The Innovator Award seeds an opportunity for these individuals to expand their research capabilities and have an even greater impact on the future."

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