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IUPUI announces 2015 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award winners at annual Research Day



INDIANAPOLIS — Established in 2010, the Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award recognizes outstanding IUPUI researchers who are showing great promise in becoming nationally and internationally known for their accomplishments in advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

Specifically, the award is for outstanding accomplishments in research and creative activity by an associate professor within the first three years of promotion or appointment in the given rank.
On April 17, the three winners of the 2014-15 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Awards received honors at IUPUI Research Day. Each winner also received a plaque and a $1,000 cash prize.

This year’s Trailblazer Award recipients are:

Molly Duman Scheel, associate professor of medical and molecular genetics

Scheel is at the forefront of innovative research on mosquito developmental genetics to understand little-known facets of mosquito biology and to create a novel gene-targeting approach to combat this human disease vector and its resistance to insecticides.
Her research has provided her field with an unprecedented understanding of the genetic codes of the Aedes mosquito. To gain these understandings, Scheel’s lab developed, for the first time, methods suited to the particulars of the Aedes mosquito. The resulting protocol papers weigh heavily as the primary research papers in advancing disease vector biology.
Scheel is the epitome of cross-disciplinary research: She recognized that the only way to develop truly novel means of interrupting mosquito-transmitted disease is to unite the disparate scientific fields of entomology, medical sciences, and genetics and molecular biology. Her cross-disciplinary research has the potential to not only advance these fields individually, but also to seamlessly integrate key research thrusts among these fields to develop novel insecticide intervention strategies.

Yiqing Song, associate professor of epidemiology

Song’s research centers on the roles of nutritional factors, specifically magnesium and vitamin D, as well as biomarkers and genetic determinants, in the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

He currently holds two awards from the National Institutes of Health. The first studies biochemical biomarkers of vitamin D/parathyroid hormone endocrine system and their potential contributions to racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease risk. The second is testing whether vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Both research activities have the potential to direct future public health efforts by designing more effective interventions to eliminate racial disparities of cardiovascular disease and providing direct evidence for clinical  guidelines in diabetes prevention.

Song’s integration of nutritional epidemiology with genetic and biochemical markers of cardiometabolic disease and his engagement with the broader scientific and medical community have created a unique research program that will undoubtedly continue to advance the forefront of research on disease prevention and risk prediction.

Jian Xie , associate professor of mechanical engineering

Xie’s research focuses on the development and use of nanostructured materials in four major areas: hydrogen adsorption enhancement, catalyst dispersion for fuel cell construction, battery failure detection and graphene composites. All of these areas have applications in transportation systems and smart grids to reduce societal dependence on fossil fuels.

The critical fundamental knowledge discovered through Xie’s research on these materials was the direct result of his pioneering research using synchrotron probes, which has great potential to provide unparalleled insights into key materials and guide the design of advanced materials for next generation, high-energy-density battery materials.
Xie’s success is exemplified through many highly cited articles in quality journals, his patent applications and a broad portfolio of funding success. Xie is a pioneering scientist in multiple fields related to energy conversion and storage. His vision and his broad collaborative base have already brought him many internationally recognized successes and poise his research for many more trailblazing accomplishments in the near future.