Research Achievement Awards honor accomplished and early-career Brown researchers

The annual awards program recognizes the research and scholarship of both longtime and early-career faculty members.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Honoring faculty from a wide variety of fields of study, Brown University awarded Research Achievement Awards to six professors at its annual Celebration of Research program on Tuesday, April 23.

“Researchers at Brown are advancing knowledge and making a difference in the world through exceptional achievements and discoveries,” said Jill Pipher, vice president for research at Brown. “These awards, now in their third year, elevate the University’s recognition of the extraordinary research contributions of our faculty.”

Pipher presented the awards along with Provost Richard M. Locke at Brown’s Faculty Club.

“Brown’s faculty are central to the University’s mission to make a difference in the world by collaborating across multiple disciplines to address society’s most pressing challenges through critical research and inquiry,” Locke said. “With these awards, we celebrate our faculty for their endless curiosity, drive and commitment to excellence, and for their contributions and discoveries.”

Locke added that the faculty members’ research accomplishments are also closely entwined with their successes in teaching and mentoring students.

Nominations for the awards were sought in six categories and then reviewed by panels of Brown faculty. Pipher said that many highly accomplished researchers were nominated this year, which presented panelists with the challenge of selecting a small number of awardees from an outstanding group of nominees.

“Each of these individual award winners has shown deep scholarship and creative solutions to complex problems,” Pipher said.

In addition to the awards, each winner received a $5,000 research stipend. The six winners of the 2019 Research Achievements Awards include:

Elizabeth Brainerd (biology and medical science) earned a Distinguished Research Achievement Award. She has been instrumental in developing X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM), a technology for visualizing bones and joints in motion, making research areas in comparative and orthopedic biomechanics accessible. Her work on the biomechanics of respiration and feeding is cited as having contributed to understanding major transformations in the evolutionary history of vertebrates. Brainerd is president of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology; president of the  International Society of Vertebrate Morphology; and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

James Green (history and Portuguese and Brazilian studies) received a Distinguished Research Achievement Award. Green is cited as the leading scholar of gender and homosexuality in Brazil and is prominent among experts on the 1964 to 1985 Brazilian dictatorship. He is author of three books, seven co-edited volumes, 10 co-edited journal issues and two textbooks. His first book, “Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil,” is seen as a pioneering classic. The director of the Brazil Initiative at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Green also leads a multi-national project documenting the early LGBT movement in Latin America and is the Brazilian Studies Association’s executive director.

Monica Munoz Martinez (American studies) earned an Early Career Research Achievement Award. Her research focuses on immigration, histories of violence and policing, and public memory of history. Her widely praised first book, “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” is about recovery of officially suppressed history: thousands of ethnic Mexicans killed by U.S. soldiers and law enforcement. Martinez is primary investigator for Mapping Violence, documenting histories of racial violence in Texas. She won an Andrew Carnegie fellowship in 2017.

Andrew Peterson (engineering) received an Early Career Research Achievement Award. His work focuses on understanding and controlling chemical reaction processes on solid surfaces, and has primary applications for energy and environmental technologies such as solar fuel production and carbon dioxide capture and conversion. He has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Peterson has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award and a Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Navy.

Kali Thomas (health services, policy and practice) earned an Early Career Research Achievement Award. Her research focuses on identifying ways to improve the quality of life of older adults needing long-term services and support. Thomas has led projects related to care delivered in long-term care facilities and the role of home- and community-based services in preventing or postponing nursing home placement. She has published 65 peer-reviewed papers. In 2016, she received the Gerontological Society of America Carroll L. Estes Rising Star Award.

Lai-Sheng Wang (chemistry) received a Distinguished Research Achievement Award. He is cited for contributions in areas of atomic clusters and multiply-charged anions, having helped to open new fields of physical chemistry research that could lead to design of novel nanomaterials. His work has led to important discoveries, including 1-atom-thick boron nanostructures similar to graphene, and boron nanocage structures. Wang has published more than 460 peer-reviewed publications, and has won numerous awards, including the Humboldt Senior Research Award in 2007 and the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy and Dynamics from the American Physical Society in 2014.

The Research Achievement Awards are one of a number of Brown programs that recognize the importance of research by Brown faculty.

Also honored at the Celebration of Research program were 21 teams as recipients of annual Research Seed awards, which advance competitive research proposals by supporting the generation of preliminary data and pursuing new directions or collaborations, including two Big Data Collaborative Seed awardees co-sponsored by the Data Science Initiative. Also, 13 winners were announced for Salomon awards, which recognize excellence in scholarship, with preference given to junior faculty.

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