The annual President's Awards for Research Excellence and Innovation & Entrepreneurship recognize outstanding research achievements by our faculty. The selections are a strong endorsement of each researcher's creativity and innovation, and an honor for the university to bestow.

Each award recipient receives a $3,000 grant and a plaque.

President's Awards for Research Excellence

These awards recognize research and creative activity that make extraordinary contributions to knowledge and artistic expression and bring positive national visibility to USD. Evidence for accomplishment includes but is not limited to: publications, grants, high-status presentations, juried exhibitions, service on prestigious editorial boards and grant review panels, and national honors. Early/mid-career faculty nominees must be an assistant or associate professor, employed as a USD faculty member for at least one year, with less than eight years of faculty rank, and having research as a significant component of workload. Established faculty nominees must be an associate or full professor, having faculty rank for a minimum of eight years with at least three years as USD faculty, and assigned research as a significant component of workload.

President's Awards for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recognizes applied research, commercialization and economic development activities that significantly advance USD. It recognizes innovative thinking and significant efforts to realize the commercial potential of the innovation for the collective benefit of society, the university, the state's economy, and the inventor/entrepreneur. Nominees must be full-time faculty or full-time staff employed by USD.

2017 Winners

President's Award for Research Excellence: Early-Mid Career Faculty

Soonhee Roh, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Social Work, School of Health Sciences

Roh’s research focuses on vulnerable populations, including underserved older adult populations, health/mental health problems including cancer prevention and intervention, substance use issues, and acculturative stress.

Roh is particularly interested in evidence-based intervention research to address issues as they relate to diverse racial/ethnic minority populations such as American Indians. As a junior faculty member, Roh has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles in the leading journals of the field and she has given more than 50 presentations to professional audiences at international, national, and regional conferences.

Her research is currently funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institute of Health. Two other projects have been supported by internal grants from the USD New Faculty Research and Creative Activity in 2013 and the School of Health Sciences Seed Grant.

President's Award for Research Excellence: Established Faculty

Brian Burrell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences, Sanford School of Medicine

Burrell’s research has focused on understanding the biological basis of changes in behavior, specifically the physiological and cellular processes occurring in the nervous system that are ultimately responsible for both adaptive and maladaptive behavioral changes. This type of research is focused specifically on neurobehavioral changes related to pain.

Burrell is studying the role of a class of neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids that have the potential to reduce pain signaling, but can also increase pain signaling under certain conditions. This research seeks to understand how to use the endocannabinoid system in a way that can produce a therapeutic effect to treat pain without generating the effects that increase pain signaling.

Aside from this research, Burrell has also been active in institutional-development grants that seek to enhance the training of students at the graduate and undergraduate level. He is the co-director the USD Neuroscience and Nanotechnology Network which is funded by the National Science Foundation to prepare STEM graduate students for a variety of post-graduate careers in academia, government and the private sector, and also the NIH-fund Summer Program for Undergraduate Research in Addiction (SPURA), which provides research experiences for undergraduates. He also serves as the director for the recently funded Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence initiative at USD which seeks to increase the diversity of students from South Dakota engaged in science majors.

President's Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Samuel Sathyanesan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences, Sanford School of Medicine

Sathyanesan’s research focuses on understanding the role of growth factor molecules in the brain, specifically proteins from the molecular class which have recently shown promising results in clinical trials in psychiatric disorders.

His laboratory employs a multifaceted molecular, cellular, and behavioral approach to further develop these factors into safer and more efficacious agents for the treatment of depression and cognitive dysfunction. This work is currently funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Past Winners: Research Excellence - New or Mid-Career Faculty

2016 Hongli Sun College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
2015 Z. Rick Wang College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2014 Haoran Sun College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2013 Chaoyang Jiang College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2012 Mark Dixon College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Biology
2011 Jacob Kerby College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Biology
2010 Ranjit Koodali College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2009 Gina Forster (Tie) Sanford School of Medicine, Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2009 Dongming Mei (Tie) College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Physics
2008 Patrick Garry School of Law
2007 Dan Soluk College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Biology

Past Winners: Research Excellence - Established Faculty

2016 Gina Forster Sanford School of Medicine, Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2015 Yuhlong Lio College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
2014 Dongming Mei College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Physics
2013 Ranjit Koodali (tie) College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2013 Carlos Telleria (tie) Sanford School of Medicine Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2012 Mary Berry College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2011 Patrick Garry School of Law
2010 John Koster National Music Museum
2009 Robert Morecraft (Tie) Sanford School of Medicine, Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2009 Paula Mabee (Tie) College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Biology
2008 Xuejun (XJ) Wang Sanford School of Medicine, Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2007 Teri James Bellis College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Communication Disorders

Past Winners: Innovation & Entrepreneurship

2016 Victor Huber College of Arts & Sciences, Biomedical Engineering
2015 Grigoriy Sereda College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2014 Stanley May College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Chemistry
2013 Gopinath Mani Graduate School, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
2012 Andrew Shim School of Education, Dept. of Kinesiology & Sports Science
2011 Young Ae Kim College of Fine Arts, Dept. of Art
2010 William Anderson College of Arts & Sciences, Dept. of Political Science
2009 Yuyu Sun Sanford School of Medicine, Div. of Basic Biomedical Sciences
2005 DaQing Yang Sanford School of Medicine