This year, the researchers receiving the prestigious awards include:

  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Early-Mid Career Faculty
    Chaoyang Jiang, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • President’s Award for Research Excellence: Established Faculty (tie)
    Ranjit Koodali, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry; Carlos Telleria, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences
  • President’s Award for Research Innovation & Entrepreneurship
    Gopinath Mani, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering

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 Laura Jenski, Ph.D., vice president for research at USD. “Our award winners this year are from chemistry, biomedical sciences and engineering, 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:

  • Jiang joined the USD Chemistry Department in 2007 as a tenure-track assistant professor in the areas of analytical chemistry and material science and was recently promoted to Associate Professor. He has actively participated in most of the major research programs within chemistry including: the statewide National Science Foundation (NSF)-EPSCoR-Research Infrastructure Improvement Project, the Ph.D program in Materials Chemistry, the NSF funded South Dakota Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (IGERT), the Northern Plain Undergraduate Research Center (NPURC), and the department’s current Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Dr. Jiang’s research interests include nanostructure synthesis and assembly, functional multilayer thin films, plasmonic nanomaterials, and surface-enhanced Raman scattering for sensing and chemical detection. He is a science PI for a multi-year collaborative project supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dr. Jiang also serves as the lead investigator of several collaborative grants and is the principal investigator of the chemistry department’s most recent NSF-MRI grant for the purchase of a field-emission scanning electron microscope. He has mentored many students, undergraduate and graduate students alike, during his six years at USD. A photo of Jiang is available for download at
  • Koodali has been at USD since 2005. In that time, he has built an outstanding record in all three areas of the tripartite mission of the college, including research, service and teaching. Koodali’s research interests include nanomaterials, photocatalysis, environmental remediation, catalysis by metal oxides, and solar energy conversion to fuels. He consistently publishes in high impact journals, and the results of his scholarship have resulted in considerable external grant support and inclusion in last year’s National Science Foundation (NSF) report to Congress. He has been a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on every major multiuser instrument proposal granted to chemistry by the NSF during his tenure at USD. Koodali also takes an active role in the Photo Active Nanoscale Systems (PANS) collaboration where his research on transforming solar energy into fuel contributed significantly to the Research Infrastructure Improvement Award. He has gained significant national exposure as a national program co-chair of the Energy & Fuels Division for several national American Chemical Society meetings. As the Materials Chemistry Ph.D. Program Graduate Program Director, Koodali and has done a superb job of recruiting, organizing and advising graduate students, and growing the program. He sits on a large number of university committees, and has reviewed an exceptional number of journal manuscripts and grant proposals in the fields of catalysis and nanoscience. He advises a large number of undergraduate research students, with several that have completed university honors theses under his supervision. Twenty-nine undergraduate students that include two Goldwater Scholars, four NSF Graduate Research Fellows, two National Defense Science and Engineering Grant (NDSEG) awardees, one National Health Corps scholar, one NASA National Aeronautics scholar and one NCAA post-graduate scholar have pursued undergraduate research under his direction for the past eight years. Koodali received the President’s Award for Research Excellence in the Early/Mid-Career Category in 2010 and the Cutler Award in the Natural Science and Math category for excellence in teaching and research in 2013. A photo of Koodali is available for download at
  • Telleria has been a faculty member in the division of Basic Biomedical Sciences of the Sanford School of Medicine (SSOM) for 10 years. He is dedicated to securing external funding for his research and his commitment was rewarded in 2008 with the awarding of a National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH) Career Development Award. In 2012, he had his second NCI-NIH grant funded, an R15 to continue his work on antiprogestin therapy for ovarian cancer. Telleria has been successful in seeking funding for his work from local sources and societies as well, and has nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications. Although Telleria’s original research focus was reproductive biology and endocrinology, he is now focused in the area of oncology with an emphasis on ovarian cancer. Presentations of his work have garnered national attention. He was the recipient of the 2008 McVay Award for Teaching and Research Excellence from the SSOM, and is active in providing research opportunities in his laboratory for colleagues and students. A photo of Telleria is available for download at
  • Mani joined the faculty of USD in 2010 as a member of the Biomedical Engineering program. In his time at USD, he has made two invention disclosures related to the development of the next generation of drug-eluting stents, and the patents are currently pending on these projects. A critical problem in the currently available drug-eluting stents is their inability to encourage the proliferation of endothelial cells. This leads to late stent thrombosis, which is a catastrophic clinical event that results in heart attack or death. Mani’s new approaches include using a novel therapeutic drug as well as a dual-drug elution therapy that will solve this problem by encouraging endothelial cell growth while simultaneously inhibiting smooth muscle cell growth to prevent artery re-closure. He has published his work in several leading journals and a textbook that he co-authored for Cambridge University Press is scheduled to release in December 2013. Mani has held various leadership positions in the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) including Program Chair and Vice Chair for the Surface Characterization and Modification Special Interest Group. He is also a member in the SFB’s Education and Professional Development Committee and Program Committee. Mani’s students have received the prestigious Student Travel Achievement Recognition Award from the SFB. Mani’s work is funded by the American Heart Association and South Dakota Board of Regents and he is actively pursuing additional funding. He is currently working with South Dakota Innovation Partners on the possibility of creating of a start-up company to move the technology further along the commercialization pathway. A photo of Mani is available for download at
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