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Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013

Indiana University Bloomington names Outstanding Junior Faculty

March 25, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington's 2012-13 Outstanding Junior Faculty awards will support the creation of innovative textile art and research on public investments in energy, the worldwide loss of coastal mangrove forests, the development of anti-malarial drugs, the relationship between vision and balance, and the appropriateness of cancer screenings.

"As I am each year when we co-present these awards, I am once again excited by the innovation and excellence of the work accomplished by these young faculty members," said Sarita Soni, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. "We're very pleased to honor their efforts."

Recipients of the awards, all of them assistant professors, are: Sanya Carley of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Rinku Roy Chowdhury of the Department of Geography; Silas Cook of the Department of Chemistry; Shirin E. Hassan of the School of Optometry; Beth Meyerson of the School of Public Health; and Rowland Ricketts III of the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts. The departments of geography and chemistry and the School of Fine Arts are part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"The Outstanding Junior Faculty awards recognize some of our most promising faculty and provide resources to develop their scientific, scholarly and creative work," added Tom Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. "The awards can play an important role in helping junior faculty establish productive research programs at a critical stage in their careers."

"I am energized and excited by the forward-looking, high-impact projects of our Outstanding Junior Faculty awardees," said IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel. "These awards will undoubtedly promote flourishing scholarly and creative careers, as we have seen through the remarkable achievements of past recipients."

The Outstanding Junior Faculty award provides $14,500 to support ongoing research. It includes $10,500 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and $4,000 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

Sanya Carley

Carley joined the School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty in 2010 after earning a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Her research focuses on energy technology policy, energy-based economic development, sustainability in the U.S. electricity sector, and public perceptions of emerging energy technologies.

Her award will support research on state-by-state energy investments with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 federal stimulus program. She will examine whether states with previous energy policy experience were more successful than others in managing the three-year stimulus program and spending the money effectively.

Rinku Roy Chowdhury

Rinku Roy Chowdhury

Rinku Roy Chowdhury

Print-Quality Photo

Roy Chowdhury joined the Department of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008 after teaching at the University of Miami. She has a Ph.D. from Clark University. Her research areas include land change science, cultural and political ecology and the use of GIS and remote sensing technology.

The award will support cross-continental analyses of coastal mangroves in Mexico and Bangladesh. Mangrove forests are threatened by urban development, water diversions, aquaculture, overharvesting and climate change. She will develop comparative models of mangrove vulnerability to anthropogenic and biophysical drivers, building on funded research combining remote sensing and socio-ecological surveys. The results will help identify how vulnerability may be mitigated by increasing coping capacity at the community and household levels.

Silas Cook

Cook joined the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2009 following post-doctoral work at Harvard University. He has a Ph.D. from Columbia University. His lab group works to create efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly reactions to enable the production of more affordable medications.

The group recently reported the world's shortest synthesis of artemisinin, the key ingredient in the most effective anti-malarial drug on the market. The group is now working to improve the synthesis and demonstrate its large-scale viability, and its synthesis approach is being explored as a way to better develop other key anti-malarial drugs that are currently in use.

Shirin E. Hassan

Shirin Hassan

Shirin E. Hassan

Print-Quality Photo

Hassan joined the School of Optometry faculty in 2007. Originally from Australia, she obtained her optometry degree and completed her Ph.D. studies at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. In addition to research and teaching, she practices optometry, specializing in the visual rehabilitation of visually impaired people.

The Outstanding Junior Faculty award will support her research examining the relationship between peripheral visual field loss (PFL) and balance problems in older adults, seeking to determine for the first time the extent of visual field necessary for good balance control. The findings will be of value to health care professionals when designing strategies to improve balance for people with PFL or other vision loss.

Beth Meyerson

Meyerson, an assistant professor of health policy and management in the School of Public Health, studies what she calls "health system elasticity;" referring to the flexibility of health systems to create greater access for populations facing health inequalities. Her work has involved everything from information system integration to health system behavior change She has been an IU faculty member since 2011 after serving as president/CEO of the Policy Resource Group LLC. Dr. Meyerson has a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University.

Meyerson's award will support a national cervical cancer screening policy adoption study of state public programs. "In the U.S. we are in the enviable position to achieve cervical cancer elimination in our lifetimes," Meyerson said. "New screening recommendations are a policy innovation that can leverage program evolution. Our success against cervical cancer depends in part on our understanding whether and how policy innovation is being adopted by states, and the factors that facilitate or prevent adoption."

Rowland Ricketts III

Rowland Ricketts

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Rowland Ricketts

Ricketts uses natural materials and historical processes to create textile-based installations. Trained in Japan in indigo farming and dyeing, he grows indigo and incorporates both the process and the dye in his work. He has been a member of the textiles faculty at the Hope School of Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences since 2008 and earned an MFA at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Ricketts said new work supported by the Outstanding Junior Faculty award will explore "the inherent impermanence of these endeavors through the controlled fading of the dye - so painstakingly cultivated and transferred to cloth - to examine ideas of futility, beauty and our basic human desire to fight the the inevitable forward march of time."

The Outstanding Junior Faculty awards are presented to highly promising tenure-track faculty who have not yet achieved tenure. Those selected have begun to develop nationally recognized research programs and devoted productive time to teaching and research.

The awards were established in the fall of 1985 and were then referred to as "The Outstanding Young Faculty Awards." They were established by the Dean of the Faculties Office (now Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs) and the Office of Research and Graduate Development (now Office of the Vice Provost for Research). The first awards were bestowed in 1986.

For more information, see the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs website or email