USD recognizes faculty with Presidents Research Awards

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota has recognized three faculty members for outstanding research. The researchers were awarded grants in three categories, including the President’s Awards for Research Excellence for Early-Mid Career Faculty; Established Faculty; and the President’s Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Recipients were selected through a highly competitive process with external reviewers. The selections are a strong endorsement of each researcher’s creativity and innovation, and an honor for the university to bestow.

This year, the researchers receiving the prestigious awards include:

  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Early-Mid Career Faculty
    Haoran Sun, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Established Faculty
    Dongming Mei, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Physics
  • President’s Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship
    Stanley May, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Chemistry

In each category, candidates were reviewed based on past and current research accomplishments, including criteria such as publications, presentations, successful grantsmanship, serving as a peer reviewer, maintenance of an active graduate and/or undergraduate program, and other competitive research awards. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship award further required demonstrated innovative thinking or research findings that had promising commercial potential as well as a concept that had progressed beyond the theoretical stage to the applied stage. 

“Research is an essential component of USD’s mission, and one of many ways USD contributes to the economic development of the state,” said James W. Abbott, USD President.  “Our award winners this year are from chemistry and physics, which are disciplines of significant strength at USD and complementary to the university’s prominence in the fine arts, humanities, and professional programs.”

Each award recipient receives a $3,000 grant and a plaque. The President’s Awards for Research Excellence for Early-Mid Career Faculty and Established Faculty, and the President’s Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship are awarded annually and open to USD faculty in each of the three categories.

About the recipients:

  • Sun is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the areas of organic chemistry and material science. His research interests include energy conversion and drug development. His research utilizes the unique properties of organofluorine compounds as tools for improving material properties and functions, and provides comprehensive training for students in the fields of organic, fluorine, and materials chemistry. Sun has been very successful in pursing external funding, having brought in over $1 million in independent research funding while at the university. Recently, he was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant. He was also the recipient of a large research grant from the Department of Defense, and has published numerous journal articles in quality ACS journals and applied for two patent applications centered on his research. He actively participates in all the major research programs within the chemistry department at USD, including NSF-EPSCoR, the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (IGERT), and the department’s NSF research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program. He is also a major contributor in all of the large center and multiuser instrument proposals in the chemistry department, including the newly acquired 400 MHZ NMR and Scanning Electron Microscope instruments. Download a photo of Sun.
  • Mei is an Associate Professor of Physics in the areas of nuclear and particle physics, astronomy, and group theory for particle physics. His research interests include underground nuclear and particle physics in searching for rare physics processes beyond the Standard Model. During the past three years, Mei has a total of 20 papers in journals recognized as some of the most significant and important in his field. His work represents an important resource for the underground science community and has contributed to the success of experiments at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). Mei has also been successful in garnering external funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the State of South Dakota, which focuses on building high purity germanium detectors for underground experiments. He is the principle investigator and director for the CUBED Center, a collaboration involving South Dakota institutions focused on underground physics, and was instrumental in building a critical mass of faculty from across the state to contribute to the center’s success. During his tenure at USD, Mei has successfully obtained more than $8 million in funding from external agencies. Download a photo of Mei.
  • May is a tenured Professor of Chemistry at USD. His research has found commercial application in the area of security printing, which is used to assist in the authentication of documents, certificates, banknotes, product labels, and various forms of identification. A plethora of technical methods are applied within the security industry, including watermarks, intaglio printing, microprinting, and printing with fluorescent inks. The majority of fluorescent inks currently employed in security printing are based on downconversion luminescence. Yet, counterfeiters are increasingly successful in mimicking security features based on downconversion inks. May and his collaborators have developed novel inks and associated printing processes based on upconversion phosphors for security printing applications. These inks produce text or images that are invisible under ambient lighting or UV excitation, but become visible upon excitation with near infrared light. The inks are activated with nanocrystals of upconversion phosphors synthesized and characterized in May’s lab at USD. Covert Quick Response (QR) codes and an additive-color RGB printing system for producing full-color luminescent images has been developed as part of this research. These inks are more difficult to duplicate and can be applied to a wider range of surfaces. This research has received attention by a number of international and national news agencies as well as regional publications. The project is currently supported by two grants from the National Science Foundation and an R&D Collaboration grant from the South Dakota Board of Regents. Download a photo of May.

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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