Worku, Li and Fini win 2011 research awards

Faculty members in animal science, industrial engineering, and civil engineering are the winners of the university’s 2011 Research Excellence Awards.

Senior Researcher of the Year: Dr. Mulumebet Worku

The Senior Researcher of the Year is Dr. Mulumebet “Millie” Worku, professor of animal sciences.  Her current research studies the immune systems of cattle, goats, and sheep to help reduce disease, improve food safety, and promote animal and public health.

A member of the awards selection committee summed up her appraisal of Dr. Worku with one word: “Awesome!”  Her funded research projects have included “Biologically inspired adaptive and reconfigurable systems: Modeling, synthesis, and simulation”; “Genomic diversity and innate immune system response”; and “Harnessing the power of genomics to determine the effect of post-harvest technologies on N.C. heirloom tomatoes.”

She has been a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on 29 successful grant proposals at the university, worth a total of more than $7.5 million.

The Senior Researcher of the Year award is presented annually to a tenured faculty member.

Outstanding Junior Researcher: Dr. Zhichao Li

The Outstanding Junior Researcher of the year is Dr. Zhichao Li, professor of industrial and systems engineering.  His research focuses on modeling, simulation, and optimization of advanced manufacturing processes.

“Dr. Li is a highly active, innovative, and skilled researcher,” one member of the selection committee wrote in evaluating his nomination.  Since coming to North Carolina A&T in 2008, he has received a National Science Foundation Career research award, published eight scholarly papers and had two more accepted for publication.  For the past four years, he has served as a symposium chair for the International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference.  He was the university’s research Rookie of the Year in 2010.

The Outstanding Junior Researcher of the Year award is presented annually to a tenure-track faculty member.

Rookie of the Year: Dr. Elham “Ellie” Fini

The Rookie of the Year is Dr. Ellie Fini, assistant professor of civil engineering.  Her current research focuses on sustainable alternatives for asphalt binder.

Members of the research awards committee characterized her research ability as “extraordinary” and “exceptional.” She is currently is the lead investigator on four National Science Foundation grants.  She has developed a sustainable infrastructure material laboratory, filed two patent applications, and published four journal articles.

The Rookie of the Year Award is presented annually to an untenured faculty member in his or her second year of tenure-track teaching and research at the university.

About the awards

The 2011 Research Excellence Award winners were announced on March 15 at the university’s Honors Convocation.  They will be invited to make presentations on their research on Faculty Research Day, Thursday April 14, and will be honored at the annual Research Awards Luncheon, also on April 14.

For more information on the winners and the awards, see the news release (PDF).

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