Quarterly Newsletter (Grants Edition) – July 2018



I. Announcing the Spring 2018 SSMN Grantees


a. Conference Grants (up to $1,500):

Chibueze Amanchukwu
Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University
Sloan Scholar in chemical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in Pittsburgh

The AIChE conference is the premier conference for chemical engineers worldwide. My research focuses on developing energy storage media with higher energy densities than current lithium-ion batteries. This conference will allow me to disseminate my research, propose the research portfolio for my future research group, and propel me through the faculty job search.


Tania López Marrero
Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Sloan Scholar in geography, The Pennsylvania State University

2019 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Participating in the conference will allow expanding my networks with people working in similar topics and fields of study, which could further promote new collaborations for future research, project development, and development of academic publications. The results presented at the meeting will also be the base for an article to be submitted to a peer-review journal.


Vilmali Lopez-Mejias
Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
Sloan Scholar in chemistry, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

26th Conference of the American Association of Crystal Growth at Stanford Sierra Camp in Fallen Leaf Lake, CA

The SSMN-TG will allow Dr. López to present at this conference, to closely network and develop collaborative projects with these experts to further her research program and publication record, and to provide additional opportunities for her students (exchange students between Universities).


Michael Martinez-Colon
Assistant Professor, Florida A&M University
Sloan Scholar PhD in marine science, University of South Florida

International Symposium on Foraminifera Meeting in Scotland

Attending the FORAMS (International Symposium on Foraminifera) meeting not only will enhance the international exposure of my laboratory by facilitating networking opportunities (I will give an oral and poster presentations) but by participating of the FaB workshop I will be able to incorporate new knowledge and technology transfer (e.g., European protocols on foraminiferal biomonitoring) to my young working group.


Maura Palacios Mejia
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles
Sloan Scholar in wildlife & fisheries, Texas A&M University

UCLA/La Kretz Conservation Genomics Workshop

The workshop will have hands on training including eDNA, RADseq, whole genomes, etc. which is what is current in the field. In addition, there will be members from several government agencies like the forest service and national parks service to create potential future collaborators for my research projects.


Erik Torres Hernandez
Postdoctoral Researcher, The Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School
Sloan Scholar in chemistry, University of Texas at Austin

International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry in Quebec City, Canada

Attending the conference will provide the opportunity to present a poster once registered with the possibility to give an oral presentation if selected by the conference organizers. Sharing chemistries will allow a careful evaluation from peers to corroborate the validity of the modification approach for proteins.

b. Mentor/Mentee Grants (up to $5,000):

Anarina Murillo
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Sloan Scholar in applied mathematics, Arizona State University

“Evaluating variabilities in glucose and insulin responses for patients with diabetes in community-derived diabetes treatment programs” at Arizona State University

This process will allow me to learn new techniques in big data and precision medicine. At the end of this period, we will determine future studies to improve model predictions that account for variability based on behavioral, environmental, and other clinical conditions. This process will allow me to prepare manuscripts and draft ideas for an NSF or NIH grant proposal.


Kelly Ramirez
Postdoctoral Scholar, Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Sloan Scholar in ecology, University of Colorado at Boulder

“Synthesis of the belowground plant microbiome” at the University of Colorado, Boulder

I have proposed a project that addresses my two research objectives – address questions of plant-microbe distribution patterns and work towards a global synthesis of microbial data for use in global biodiversity assessments (like Global Biodiversity Information Facility). This project will have specific impact on my theoretical expertise and will help me to contribute broader questions regarding global biodiversity.


c. Seed Grants (up to $10,000):

photograph by Brett Simpson

Christopher Dancy
Assistant Professor, Bucknell University
Sloan Scholar in information sciences from The Pennsylvania State University

“Understanding and predicting arousal modulation of intelligent behavior”

The goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of how arousal modulates intelligent behavior in humans. With this work, we are particularly focusing on the exploration and exploitation tradeoff (i.e., when to continue to collect information and deliberate, and when to act on that information). In addition, this project will accomplish the objective of training an undergraduate in research at the intersection of cognitive science and robotics, which is important to the mission of the University.


Walleska de Jesús Bonilla

Associate Professor, University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla
Sloan Scholar in applied chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

“Identification of bioactive compounds of endophyte fungi from Alipnia zerumbet”

The specific aims of this seed grant are to: 1) isolate and identify endophyte fungi from A.zerumbet using macroscopic and micromolecular techniques, and by phylogenetic analysis of genomic DNA; 2) screening of L-asparaginase and bioactive compounds using NMR, IR, and MS techniques. This seed grant will provide data to compete for other grants in which we can study the cytotoxic activity of the isolated bioactive compounds in cancer cell lines.


Veronica Morales
Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis
Sloan Scholar in environmental engineering, Cornell University

“Soil structure effects on the transport and spread of nano-sized contaminants in groundwater”

The intellectual merit of the proposed work can provide a transformative advance in understanding fundamental physical processes by providing unique and high-quality experimental data to reassess current theories of nanoparticle transport. Receiving seed funding will not only directly impact the proposed work on nano-pollutants in agricultural soils, but will stimulate additional research that relies on similar principles and is stagnant due to the same experimental limitations.

Honorable Mention (seed):

Damena Agonafer
Assistant Professor, Washington University in St. Louis
Sloan Scholar in mechanical engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Laquanda Leaven
Assistant Professor, North Carolina A&T State University
Sloan Scholar in industrial engineering, North Carolina A&T State University

Michelle Johnson
Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Sloan Scholar in mechanical engineering, Stanford University

Paul Hurtado
Assistant Professor, University of Nevada-Reno
Sloan Scholar in applied mathematics, Cornell University

II. The Summer 2018 Grant Competition is now open!

See our grants page for more details, including information on guidelines and requirements for all three grant opportunities. Only PhD graduates of the Sloan Minority PhD Program, or Sloan Scholar PhDs, are eligible to apply.

Have questions about your application or the selection process? Join us for a grants webinar on Thursday, July 12th at 10:30 AM EST. Register here. The webinar will also be recorded and available in our webinar library by Friday, July 13th.




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