OVPR to honor four research faculty members

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The Office of the Vice President for Research will award a trio of research faculty members this fall for their work investigating a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, exploring the origins of dark matter and dark energy, and identifying new therapies to combat disease.

Shawn McKee, research scientist in physics, and Jeanne Stuckey, research associate professor of biological chemistry, biophysics and at the Life Sciences Institute, will receive OVPR Research Faculty Achievement Awards.

Monique Verhaegen, research assistant professor of dermatology, will receive the Research Faculty Recognition Award.

McKee, Stuckey and Verhaegen, who were selected by the OVPR Research Faculty Awards Advisory Committee and confirmed by Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham, will be honored at the President’s Faculty Awards event Oct. 3.

Mihaela Banu, research professor of mechanical engineering who begins her five-year appointment as the OVPR Collegiate Research Professor on Sept. 1, also will be honored at the event.

“We have incredibly talented research faculty here at the University of Michigan whose determination and expertise continues to drive them to solve some of the most serious challenges of our time,” Cunningham said.

OVPR Research Faculty Achievement Award

The Research Faculty Achievement Award recognizes researchers who have made outstanding scholarly achievements, as represented by significant contributions to an academic field of study over time, a specific outstanding discovery, or the development of innovative technology or practice.

McKee is director of the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering’s Center for Network and Storage-Enabled Collaborative Computational Science. He also is the U-M site director for A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS Great Lakes Tier 2, which contributed to the Higgs Boson particle discovery in 2012. McKee’s research primarily focuses on high-energy physics and the origin and nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Stuckey is managing director of the Center for Structural Biology, a comprehensive structural biology resource for researchers within the Life Sciences Institute. Her research is focused on structure-based drug design to discover and optimize lead compounds for developing new therapies to combat various diseases, especially cancer.

OVPR Research Faculty Recognition Award

Monique Verhaegen
Monique Verhaegen

The Research Faculty Recognition Award is presented to a research assistant professor or assistant research scientist based on exceptional scholarly achievements, as evidenced by publications and other activities in an academic field of study.

Verhaegen leads research that investigates the molecular basis and biology of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. She recently developed the first genetically engineered mouse model of this form of cancer and has helped secure two National Institute of Health R01 grants to advance her research.

OVPR Collegiate Research Professorship

Mihaela Banu
Mihaela Banu

The OVPR Collegiate Research Professorship is awarded to a research faculty member who has made exceptional scholarly achievements and advanced knowledge in their field.

Banu’s research focuses on creating natural-based, sustainable materials and smart dental implants. Her work has allowed for significant advancements in environmental-friendly transportation and oral health care, which has resulted in 14 patents.

Since joining U-M in 2013, she has helped to secure more than $15 million in grants and contributed to the $150 million award that led to the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a public-private partnership co-founded by U-M that develops advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies and education and training programs.

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