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Research Newswire

Introducing NC State’s Newest Outstanding Researchers

Five faculty members have received the prestigious Outstanding Research Award, the university’s top award for those who show excellence in their field and mentor their fellow research faculty. This award also includes induction into the Research Leadership Academy, a diverse team of accomplished faculty members dedicated to enhancing NC State’s research culture.

This year’s winners are:

  • Ke Cheng, a professor of regenerative medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dean Paul Lunn said Cheng has a “unique and exceptional vision for solving biomedical problems” and is “extremely unselfish” when mentoring junior scientists. 
  • Heike Sederoff, a University Faculty Scholar in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with an expertise in plant physiology and metabolic engineering. Dean Richard Linton called her a “pioneer working at the scientific frontier of both plant sensory genomics and plant metabolic engineering” and said she has a “proven track record of excellence in mentoring the next generation of scientists.”
  • Paola Sztajn, a mathematics education professor in the College of Education. Dean Mary Ann Danowitz said Sztajn has shown “excellence in scholarship, mentoring, and a commitment to advancing the research enterprise at the department, college, and university levels,” and her “purposeful mentoring and support” led to more than $30 million in grants during fiscal year 2020.
  • Cranos Williams, a professor in the College of Engineering and the platform director of the Plant Sciences Initiative. Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Jonathan Horowitz called Williams a “dynamic leader, outstanding researcher, and mentor of faculty, staff and students,” and said he is dedicated to interdisciplinary research and teaching. 
  • Yara Yingling, professor of materials science and engineering and undergraduate program director in the College of Engineering. Dean Louis Martin-Vega said Yingling is a “leading driver of current research” and has “the ability to drive innovative research discoveries, work across disciplinary boundaries, mentor and development the talent of others, and communicate to diverse and broad audiences.”

The Outstanding Research Award is given by the Office of Research and Innovation and the Alumni Association. All five awardees will be inducted into the Research Leadership Academy, which builds an intellectual, multidisciplinary research community across campus. Xiangwu Zhang, of the Wilson College of Textiles, received the Outstanding Research Award in 2013 and will also be inducted into the Research Leadership Academy this year. 

“Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Research Award,” said Erin Sills, the 2020-2021 Research Leadership Academy chairwoman. “It is truly an honor to be selected from among the many excellent nominees for this award. I look forward to their participation in the Research Leadership Academy. This year, we are also lucky to have a previous recipient of the Outstanding Research Award joining the RLA, meaning that we will be adding new ideas, energy, and mentoring capacity from five different colleges.”