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2021 AchievementsRecent faculty, student, and alumni accomplishments

The distinct silhouette of AU's Hall of Science

Environmental Science graduate student Joseph Barnes and undergraduate student Natalie Landaverde were awarded AU's Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty’s Pilot Grant Award for their project "Effects of biofilm biodiversity and biomass on microplastics in the Potomac River".

Andrea Brothers (staff member, CAS Dean’s Office) was recognized for her work with AU’s electron microscopes in support of research and teaching in the Hall of Science in JEOL

Data Science students and faculty were featured on EdSurge for creating a free app to help teachers build data literacy skills in the classroom.

Dustin Friedman (Literature) was a guest on the Ivory Tower Boiler Room Podcast to discuss his research and teaching related to LGBTQ culture in Victorian literature.

Holland Gormley (alumna, Arts Management), a public affairs specialist with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress was featured on Performance.Gov for her work on the Music Modernization Act.

Abdallah Hendawy (Arab World Studies) published a new book, Bleeding Hearts: From Passionate Activism to Violent Insurgency in Egypt, which ranks third on Amazon’s bestseller list for Middle Eastern Studies for November 2021.   

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke with the Sputnik News Agency, RTVI, CGTN America, RT America, the Washington Times, and CrossTalk about a variety of topics. 

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke with RTVI, Republic TV India, RG, Zvezda TV, NTV Russian Television, acTVism Munich, Sputnik International, and CGTN about various topics, including Biden’s presidency, Donald Trump, and US-Russia relations.

Gregory Lane (Economics) was awarded $29,249 by the World Bank Group for the project titled “Fostering Resilience in Low-Income Countries.”

Research on microplastics in local watersheds by Jesse Meiller, Barbara Balestra, and graduate student Elisa Davey (Environmental Science) was featured in Washington City Paper.

Alumna Valzhyna Mort (MFA 2011) won the 2021 International Griffin Prize for her third poetry collection, Music for the Dead and Resurrected (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), which was named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by the New York Times.

Celine-Marie Pascale (Sociology) published “The federal poverty line struggles to capture the economic hardship that half of Americans face” in The Conversation.

David Pike (Literature) was featured on PopMatters related to his forthcoming book, Cold War Space and Culture in the 1960s and 1980s: The Bunkered Decades.

Michael Robinson (Mathematics) was awarded $12,000 by NASA for his project titled “Advances in DTN simulation and game-theoretic modeling.”

Professor Elizabeth Rule (CRGC) has received the Library Company of Philadelphia’s 2021 Innovation Award for Guide to Indigenous DC, which includes a digital map, mobile application, and monograph of sites of Indigenous importance in the nation’s capital. This biennial award goes to a project that critically and creatively expands the possibilities of humanistic scholarship.

Anastasia Snelling (Health Studies) received $60,000 from DC Central Kitchen for “Healthy Corners Program Evaluation 2022,” an annual evaluation assessing the role of corner stores for promoting and selling fresh produce.

Professor Sybil Roberts Williams (CRGC/AFAM) is the playwright for “The Black Flute,” a work produced by the IN-Series opera company and made into a film that was screened on the National Mall October 8. “Black Flute” reimagines Mozart’s classic work “Magic Flute” in DC’s historically Black neighborhoods and explores what it means to be young, black, and gifted in today’s world.

Alexander Zestos (Chemistry) received $55,000 from the American Chemical Society for his project "Fundamental Reactions of Phenols on Heterogeneous Polymer-Modified Microelectrode Surfaces.”

Fall Achievements

Battelle-Tompkins Memorial Building

Reza Akbari (PhD candidate, History) published “Raisi, the Presidency and Iran’s Foreign Policy” in the Iran Primer, published by the United States Institute of Peace. 

Michael Bader (Sociology) is part of a team of researchers based at Columbia University that was just awarded $42,321 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research alcohol-related and built environment factors that can be modified to prevent pedestrian road traffic deaths. This represents year one of an expected $182,278 four-year award.

Braxton Boren (Audio Technology), Philip Johnson (Physics), and Bei Xiao (Computer Science) are co-principal investigators as part of a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for their project “MRI: Acquisition of Volumetric Capture System for the Institute for IDEAS,” which they will work on with co-principal investigator Larry Engel and principal investigator Krzysztof Pietroszek.

Zoë Charlton (Studio Art) and Tim Doud (Art) published the book Out of Place: Artists, Pedagogy, and Purpose (Punctum Books).

Alumna Rebecca DeWolf (History) has published Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-1963 (University of Nebraska Press).

Jessica Gephart (Environmental Science) received an $50,000 award from the Environmental Defense Fund for the project “Global seafood trade and nutrition.”

Stephanie Grant (Literature) published “Disgust: On the Uses and Abuses of the Most Difficult Emotion” on LitHub, unpacking the emotion of disgust in relation to the January 6th riots on the US Capitol. Professor Grant published “Why My Daughter Got (Temporarily) Married at 13” in the New York Times’ Modern Love column.

Sam Hanna (Health Studies) published “Blockchain Integration With Digital Technology and the Future of Health Care Ecosystems: Systematic Review” in the Journal for Medical Internet Research. 

Jeffrey Kaplan (Biology) received an $8,223 award from Kane Biotech for his project “Antibiofilm activities of dispersin B against Cutibacterium acnes.”

Mieke Meurs (Economics) was awarded $800,000 from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) for her project “RENEWAL of grant to support the organizational strengthening of the Program on Gender Analysis of the Economy: PGAE Global Scholars.”

Danielle Mysliwiec (Studio Art) exhibited her artwork at McKenzie Fine Art in New York City from September 10 to October 24.

Pamela Nadell (History) discusses how antisemitism fuels white nationalism on PBS’ “Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism.”

Kara Reynolds (Economics) spoke with BBC News about bottlenecks in the global supply chain.

Elizabeth Rule (CRGC) contributed to the Washington Post article, “We’re talking about a big, powerful phenomenon: Multiracial Americans drive change,” discussing how mixed-race Americans affected the most recent census.

Rachel Louise Snyder (Literature) published an essay titled “I Don’t Want to Hit My Children” in the New York Times, addressing domestic violence and anti-violence hotlines. She also appeared on Join Washington Post Live to discuss the mental health impact of domestic violence and how the pandemic has renewed efforts to pass legislation to combat abuse.

Jon D. Wisman (Economics) published “Why Has Labor Not Demanded Guaranteed Employment?” in the Journal of Economic Issues. 

Sauleh Siddiqui (Environmental Science), Kiho Kim (Environmental Science), Jessica Gephart (Environmental Science), Annie Claus (Anthropology), and Stacey Snelling (Health Studies) are part of the team of researchers recently awarded a five-year, $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Titled "Multiscale Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies (RECIPES) for Sustainable Food Systems,” the project will study food waste and work toward sustainability and equity in food systems under the leadership of AU principal investigator, Siddiqui.

Andrew Demshuk (History) has published Three Cities after Hitler: Redemptive Reconstruction across Cold War Borders (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Jessica Gephart (Environmental Science) received a $785,240 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her project, “Collaborative Research: HNDS-I: A global seafood trade network database for sustainable food systems, human health, and nutrition security.”

Stephanie Grant (Literature) had an essay published in the New York Times Modern Love column on August 27. Her new memoir, Disgust (Scuppernong Editions), will be released in November.

Justin Jacobs (History) completed filming 24 episodes for his Great Courses series, "UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Exploring the World's Greatest Places." A Chinese translation of his latest book, The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures (University of Chicago Press, 2020), is being published serially in the Xiyu wenshi.

Sara Clarke Kaplan, the new executive director of AU’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center, spoke with NPR affiliate KPBS News (San Diego) on critical race theory. Kaplan’s latest book, The Black Reproductive: Unfree Labor and Insurgent Motherhood (University of Minnesota Press), was published in June.

Mark Laubach (Neuroscience) received a grant for $50,000 from George Washington University’s District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR) for his project, "Effects of HIV1 Tat and Antiretroviral Therapy on the Rodent Frontal Cortex.”

Anthony Panzera (Health Studies) received a $95,739 grant from the District of Columbia Department of Health, sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture – WIC Telehealth Evaluation Collaborative, for the “THIS-WIC Telehealth Project.”

Malgorzata Rymsza-Pawlowska (History) has been named to the Board of Directors of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC (HumanitiesDC) and served as chair of the Program Committee of the DC History Conference and as series editor for the National Council on Public History and National Park Service’s 2021-2025 American Revolution 250th Commemoration Scholars' Forums.

History alumnus John Schmitz (CAS/PhD ’07) published Enemies Among Us: The Relocation, Internment, and Repatriation of German, Italian, and Japanese Americans during the Second World War (University of Nebraska Press).

Sauleh Siddiqui (Environmental Science) spoke on CNN about why we need to adjust our approach to infrastructure to protect the most vulnerable from climate change.

David Vine (Anthropology) wrote an op-ed in Business Insider on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. His new book, The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts (University of California Press), is out in paperback.


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Past Achievements

Summer 2021

A microscope in a lab within AU's new Hall of Science

Alexander Zestos (Chemistry) received a grant for $50,000 from George Washington University's DC Center for AIDS Research for his project "Assessments of potential impacts of cognitive deficits on drug use and their implications for HIV intravenous drug users."

Stephen MacAvoy (Environmental Science) coauthored a new book, Climate Change, Science, and the Politics of Shared Sacrifice (Oxford University Press).

David Vine (Anthropology) wrote two op-eds, "After 20 years of destruction, the US has a moral obligation to let in 1 million Afghan refugees," for Business Insider, and "Why the US Is Trapped in "Endless War" for Big Think.

Stefano Costanzi (Chemistry) received a grant for $429,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his project "Virtual screening for the identification of ligands of GPR101, an orphan GPCR involved in X-linked acrogigantism (X-LAG)."

David Gerard (Mathematics & Statistics) received a grant for $188,694 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his project "A U-statistic approach to population genetics."

Douglas Fox (Chemistry) received a grant for $40,000 from Vireo Advisors, LLC., for his project "Nanocellulose Fluorescence Labeling."

Barbara Balestra (Environmental Science) received a grant for $12,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for her project "Predicting Changes in Ocean Habitability on Earth and Other Ocean Worlds."

Anastasia Snelling (Health Studies) received a grant for $66,000 from DC Central Kitchen for “Evaluation Services for the Healthy School Food Program's Nutrition Education and Engagement Activities.”

Mary Hansen (Economics) received a grant for $29,876 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for “Doctoral Dissertation Research in DRMS: A Comparison of Value of Statistical Life Estimates Derived from Revealed and Stated Preferences.”

E. Andrew Taylor (Performing Arts) published a new book, The Artful Manager: Field Notes on the Business of Arts and Culture (Arts Axis Press).

Kelly Jones (Economics) received a grant for $26,552 from the Manhattan Strategy Group and the Department of Labor for her project about improving FMLA coverage in underserved communities.

Onaje Woodbine (Philosophy & Religion) received a $40,000 First Book Grant for Scholars of Color from the Louisville Institute for his book, Take Back What the Devil Stole: An African American Prophet's Encounters in the Spirit World (Columbia University Press).

Michael Alonzo (Environmental Science) received a grant for $37,914 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his work in improving models of forest ecosystem structure and function through fusion of 3D data derived from stereo imagery and lidar.

Laura Cutler (Center for Israel Studies) received $25,000 from the Israel Institute for a teaching expansion grant for 2021-22.

Monica Jackson (Mathematics & Statistics) received a $125,000 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA)for American University's Summer Program in Research and Learning Program (SPIRAL).

Nicole Kramer (Health Studies) received a $6,260 grant from the Society for Research in Child Development for her Covid Forward study.

Melissa Scholes Young (Literature) was interviewed by AU alum Corinne Ahren for Ms. Magazine about her new novel The Hive.

January-May 2021 Archive

Kelly Jones (economics) received a grant for $26,552 from the Manhattan Strategy Group and the Department of Labor for her project about improving FMLA coverage in underserved communities. June 2021

Onaje Woodbine (philosophy and religion) received a grant for $40,000 from The Louisville Institute for his project “Take Back What the Devil Stole: An African American Prophet's Encounters in the Spirit World”. June 2021 

Michael Alonzo (environmental science) received a grant for $37,914 from NASA for his work improving models of forest ecosystem structure and function through fusion of 3D data derived from stereo imagery and lidar. June 2021 

Laura Cutler (Center for Israel Studies) received a $25,000 from The Israel Institute, Inc for a teaching expansion grant for 2021-22. June 2021 

Monica Jackson (math & statistics) received a $125,000 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) for the Summer Program in Research and Learning Program (SPIRAL at American). June 2021

Nicole Kramer (health studies) received a $6,260 grant from the Society for Research in Child Development for her Covid Forward study. June 2021

Daniel Fong (biology) received a $15,165 award from Cave Conservancy of the Virginias for his project titled “Potential Metabolic Adaptation to Groundwater Warming Among Subterranean Aquatic Crustacean Species” May 2021

Brian Yates (psychology) received $64,735 to evaluate the Emergency Assistance Programs (EAP) of Freedom House, which aids human rights defenders, survivors of religious persecution, and political prisoners. A special focus of Yates's evaluation is EAP’s Dignity for All: LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) Assistance Program. May 2021

Monica Jackson (mathematics & statistics) received a $29,824 grant from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for “The Summer Program In Research And Learning SPIRAL at American University” April 2021

Michael Robinson (mathematics & statistics) received a $20,500 grant from Battelle Memorial Institute and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for his project “HyperThesis DARPA Modeling Adversarial Activity (MAA)” April 2021

Kathryn Walters-Conte (physics) received a $50,000 grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute for her work on the HHMI Driving Change D.C. Learning Grant 2021. April 2021

David Vine (anthropology) received a $8,000 grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation for The United States of War book release and impact and dissemination efforts. March 2021

Gregory Lane (economics) received a $16,727 grant from London School of Economics for “The Potential for E-Commerce Platforms to unlock high growth for firms in Africa” March 2021

Sauleh Siddiqui (environmental science) received a $108,130 grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) March 2021 

Adam McKay (physics) received a $27,756 grant from the University of Maryland for the project “Insights into Cometary Nucleus Heterogeneity and Evolution via Orbital Trends” March 2021

Nathalie Japkowicz (computer science) received a $70,000 grant from SRI International for "Multi-Stage Multi-Task Memory Transfer: Analysis of Hierarchical Eigentasks and Change-Point Detection in SRI Lifelong Learning Machine" February 2021 

Hanning Chen (Chemistry) received $75,000 from George Washington University for “Nanomechanics and Electronic Structure of Organic Photovoltaics in Real Application Conditions by Advanced Scanning Probe Microscopy” February 2021

Silvina Guidoni (physics) and a global team of researchers virtually continued on their work from the NASA Goddard Heliophysics Hackweek 2020 to publish their results about machine learning at the prestigious NeurIPS 2020 conference. February 2021

Philip Johnson (physics) received $153,129.41, representing an incremental fund of $420,518 that is expected to go through 2/29/2024, from NASA for his project called "Research on the Causes and Consequences of Ionospheric Outflow." February 2021

Andrew Demshuk (history) and the AU History Department have been accepted to the Leibniz Research Alliance “Value of the Past” (Wert der Vergangenheit). They will now be partnering with a network of nine other scholarly institutions around the world to take part in joint research activities, workshops, and publications related to critical questions surrounding historical legacies about the politics of space. January 2021

Valentina Aquila (environmental science) was awarded $19,096, with expected funding of $296,026 over three years, from the Michigan Technological University, prime funding from NASA, for her project entitled "Tracking Volcanic Volatiles From Magma Reservoir to the Atmosphere: Identifying Precursors and Optimizing Models and Satellite Observations for Future Major Eruptions." January 2021

Stefano Costanzi (chemistry) received an award of $140,000 from The Henry L. Stimson Center for his project called "Cheminformatics Tool to Bolster the Control of Chemical Warfare Agents and Precursors." January 2021

Zois Boukouvalas (mathematics & statistics) was granted $160,000 from Energetics Technology Center, with prime funding from the Office of Naval Research, for his project called "Human Assisted Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing Approaches for Energetics." January 2021

Daniel Kerr (history) received an award of $100,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation for his project called "Food Security in DC during COVID-19" with the purpose of supporting the activities of the Humanities Truck during the coronavirus pandemic. January 2021

David Vine (anthropology) was named a finalist for the LA Times History Book Prize for his book “The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State” March 2021

E. Andrew Taylor (arts) published a new book The Artful Manager: Field Notes on the Business of Arts and Culture. June 2021

Douglas Fox and Whirang Cho (chemistry) collaborated on the publication, “Mechanical enhancement of cellulose nanofibril (CNF) films through the addition of water-soluble polymers” in Carbohydrate Polymers. May 2021

Douglas Fox (chemistry) wrote the article, "Influence of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) on permeation through intestinal monolayer and mucus model in vitro" in Carbohydrate Polymers. April 2021

Douglas Fox (chemistry) wrote the article, "Fluorescently Labeled Cellulose Nanofibers for Environmental Health and Safety Studies" in Nanomaterials. April 2021

Melissa Scholes Young (literature) wrote "Thank You, Rush Limbaugh, For My Feminism" in Ms. Magazine. February 2021

Laura Beers (history) authored "What Josh Hawley doesn't get about George Orwell" on CNN. January 2021.

Melissa Scholes Young (Critical Race, Gender and Culture Studies Collaborative) was interviewed by AU alum Corinne Ahren for Ms. Magazine about her new novel The Hive. June 2021 

Donald Earl Collins (Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies Collaborative) wrote an article for Aljazeera on the issue of second-class citizenship in academia. May 2021 

Donald Earl Collins (CRGC) was interviewed by WTOP News about DC Emancipation Day, and the progress on racism in our city and country. May 2021  

Donald Earl Collins (CRGC) was Interviewed about DC Emancipation Day, progress in DC/US on racism by WTOP April 2021

Theresa Runstedtler (history) was interviewed by Vox in a video about the boxing film that was banned around the world. March 2021

Nika Elder (art) spoke with USA Today about discussions around having a monument to Ruth Bader Ginsberg built. March 2021

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (sociology) was featured in El Paso Matters about his lab's research into the susceptibility among latin people in El Paso to Covid-19March 2021

AU Tutoring Corps was featured by WJLA-TV for their program having students tutor the children of AU staff/faculty during the Covid-19 pandemic. March 2021

Kyle Dargan (literature) talked to the New York Times magazine about the diminishing barriers between rap and poetryMarch 2021

Kyle Dargan (literature) talked to the New York Times magazine about the power of words, repetition, rap, and poetryMarch 2021

Kyle Dargan (literature) was in the Washington Post, sharing his recommendation for a book that captures the spirit of Washington, DC. March 2021

David Vine (anthropology) was featured by USA Today in an article about the US's global military presence. February 2021

David Vine (anthropology) was featured by USA Today in an article about the international reach of the US's counterterrorism efforts. February 2021

Mia Owens (history) was featured in an article by WJLA about becoming the first person to recieve the White House Historical Association fellowship that focuses on studying slavery, specifically the untold stories in DC. February 2021

Nathaniel Herr (psychology) was quoted in an article in CNN, which spoke about the 200,000 digital tips sent to the FBI, many of which helped identify and arrest people after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. February 2021

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (sociology) spoke with Colombia’s NTN24 during live coverage of the inauguration of President Joe Biden. January 2021

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (sociology) spoke with Telemundo Nacional about the effect of the inauguration of President Joe Biden on dreamers in the US. January 2021

Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (sociology) spoke with Telemundo 44, DC about the local impact of the Biden government. January 2021

Michael Brenner (history) wrote “Pre-Nazi Germany tells us the fight to save American democracy is just beginning” for the Washington Post. January 2021