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Faculty & Staff Accolades: December 2019 – January 2020

Winning first place in the first annual College of Science Door Decoration Contest was Emily Gaietto, along with group members Tony Falsetti, Samantha Hadley, Kelly Knight, Felicia Marks, Mary Ellen O’Toole, and Sean Whitmer, Forensic Science.  In second place was Francina Osoria, with group members Kate Daie, Jen Fraze, and Florencia Guiterrez, College of Science, and in third place was Carissa Hunter, with group members Jennifer Bazaz Gettys, Gregory Craft, Frannie Dove, Allie Edwards, Donna Fox, Melissa Hayes, Zach Henderson, Assad Khan, Bertha McCoy, and Padhu Seshaiyer, Student Academic Affairs.

In the first annual College of Science Baking Contest, Rebecca Jones, Chemistry, won first place with her apple spice cake followed by Samantha Cooke, Geography and Geoinformation Science, in second place, with her gingerbread cake, and Evan Del Duke, Development and External Relations, in third place with his eggnog cake.

College of Science staff members deemed eligible for the 2019 College of Science Annual Reconciliation Recognition Award for being 98% compliant and on time with completing reconciliations were Jen Fraze, College of Science, Megan Grant, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, Jessica Hanna, Physics and Astronomy, Fabiola Suarez, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Rhonda Troutman, College of Science.  Of those eligible, Troutman was randomly selected as the recipient of the 2019 College of Science Annual Reconciliation Recognition Award.

Ancha Baranova, Systems Biology, co-authored three papers, one in Human Genetics, on common genome-wide risk genes for major psychiatric traits, another, on human longevity trends, in Scientific Reports, jointly with an affiliate faculty member Anatoly Mayburd and lastly, on miRNA dependent gene regulation in Frontiers inMolecular Bioscience with a Biology undergraduate student.

Samantha Cooke, Geography and Geoinformation Science, was a recipient of the 2019 College of Science Dean’s Distinctive Service Award. The Dean’s Distinctive Service Award is presented to a classified staff member who has demonstrated excellence to students, faculty, and administration in meeting the vision of their home unit and the College of Science since January 2019.

Andrew Crooks and Hamdi Kavak, Computational and Data Sciences, Joon-Seok Kim, Dieter Pfoser, and Andreas Zufle, Geography and Geoinformation Science, together with a collaborator from Tulane University received the Best Vision Paper Runner-Up at the 16th International Symposium on Spatial and Temporal Databases (SSTD) 2019 for their paper titled "Location-Based Social Simulation.”

Liping Di, along with Co-PIs Liying Guo and Eugene Yu, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems, was awarded $698,440 for ROSES-2018: Remote sensing and agro-geoinformatics based products and services for supporting agricultural and food-security decision making in Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center. Di was also awarded $433,898 for The development of a prototypical semantic catalog and reasoning system to support NGA agent-based system program by the Sierra Nevada Corporation. Prime Sponsor: DOD/Air Force Research Laboratory.

Paul Dirmeyer, Atmospheric Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, has been appointed an Affiliate Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The 3-year appointment is reserved for senior-level scientists from the university and research community to carry out long-term, highly interactive, collaborative work with NCAR scientists on scientific problems of mutual interest. The appointment was approved by the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), of which George Mason University is a member.

Peggy Einhorn, Biology, was a recipient of the 2019 College of Science Dean’s Distinctive Service Award. The Dean’s Distinctive Service Award is presented to a classified staff member who has demonstrated excellence to students, faculty, and administration in meeting the vision of their home unit and the College of Science since January 2019.

Anthony Falsetti, Forensic Science, was selected to serve on a day long panel entitled Mass Disasters and Disaster Victim identification (DVI); American Academy of Forensic Science 2020 Annual Conference, Anaheim, California. Falsetti was also the recipient of the 2019 College of Science Dean’s Impact Award. The Dean’s Impact Award is presented to a faculty member in the College who has achieved particular success, has made a notable impact, and has brought recognition to the College of Science since January 2019.

Gregory Foster, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $79,438 for Development of passive sampling methodologies for equilibrium sampling of PFAS compounds in surface and groundwater by the State of Maryland. Prime Sponsor: Department of Defense (Army Corps of Engineers).

Harold Geller, Physics and Astronomy, spoke to 10th and 11th grade classes at Reedsburg Area High School in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. He utilized Skype to speak with the students remotely and answer questions about astronomy.

Nirmal Ghimre and Igor Mazin, Physics and Astronomy, Quantum Materials Center, published a paper titled “Topology and correlations on the kagome lattice” in Quantum Materials. Ghimire also co-authored a paper titled “A New Three-Dimensional Subsulfide Ir2In8S with Dirac Semimetal Behavior” in Journal of American Chemical Society https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jacs.9b10147.  Mazin, also co-published the following papers: “Novel Fe-Based Superconductor in Comparison with Traditional Pnictides” in Physical Review Letters, “Role of correlations in determining the Van Hove strain in Sr2RuO4” in Physical Review, “Ab initio prediction of a two-dimensional variant of the iridate IrO2” in Physical Review B, and “Impact of biaxial and uniaxial strain on V2O3” in Physical Review B.

Ramin Hakami, Systems Biology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, was awarded $510,570 for Infection Site Targeted Antitoxin Antibody (ISTAb) against Bacillus anthracis by the Integrated Biotherapeutics, Inc. Prime Sponsor: Department of Health and Human Services (NIH).

Min Huang, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Spatial Information Science and System, co-authored a paper titled “Impact of Aerosols From Urban and Shipping Emission Sources on Terrestrial Carbon Uptake and Evapotranspiration: A Case Study in East Asia” in AGU. Huang also agreed to be a topic editor of the journal of Atmosphere.

Joon-Seok KimDieter Pfoser, and Andeas ZufleGeography and Geoinformation Science, won the first place for the ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS Cup 2019. The GIS Cup is a yearly  GIS-focused algorithm competition, and this year was that focused on optimizing ride-hailing algorithms. Their winning approach was titled "Distance-Aware Competitive Spatiotemporal Searching Using Spatiotemporal Resource Matrix Factorization." More details on GIS-Cup can be found at the competition website at https://sigspatial2019.sigspatial.org/giscup2019/.

Younsung Kim, Environmental Science and Policy, presented her research entitled “Identifying the Determinants of Recycling Rates in US: A Multi-Level Analysis” at the 2020 National Council for Science and the Environment Annual Conference.

Kelly Knight, Forensic Science, was selected to participate in a half-day workshop entitled Student Academy Panel at the American Academy of Forensic Science 2020 Annual Conference, Anaheim, California. She also provided a poster session entitled No Lab, No Problem! Practical Active Learning Ideas for a Forensic DNA Course.

Rainald Lohner, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $898,753 for Low Altitude Nuclear Explosion (LANE) Prototype by the Leidos Inc. Prime Sponsor: U.S. Department of the Army.

Dusan Odstrcil, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $50,000 for Visualization of the ENLIL heliospheric model results with Python by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.

Kathy Pegion and Tim DelSole, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, published a paper titled “The Subseasonal Experiment (SubX): A Multimodel Subseasonal Prediction Experiment” in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0270.1 This article was also featured in the following news articles: https://phys.org/news/2019-12-critical-gap-weather.html, https://www.weathernationtv.com/news/closing-critical-gap-in-weather-forecasting/, and highlighted by the funding agency (NOAA), https://cpo.noaa.gov/Meet-the-Divisions/Earth-System-Science-and-Modeling/MAPP/ArtMID/6170/ArticleID/1819. Pegion also co-authored a paper titled “Do asymmetries in ENSO predictability arise from different recharged states?” in the journal Climate Dynamics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-019-05069-5. In addition, Pegion, along with Cristiana Stan and Paul Dirmeyer, co-authored a study on weather and climate prediction titled “Current and emerging developments in subseasonal to decadal prediction” in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (bit.ly/2u1c1yh).

Emanuel Petricoin, Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, along with affiliate faculty Ed Szuszczewicz, received an award of $150,000 from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation for the Physics in Medicine Initiative via the George Mason University Foundation. Petricoin was also awarded $10,000 for Signaling Analysis of RPFNA Samples by the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope. Prime Sponsor: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Petricoin, along with fellow faculty member, Shane Caswell, College of Education and Human Development, connected across disciplines to address a slippery problem: diagnosing and monitoring concussions. They aim to reconstruct the diagnostic and monitoring standard with measurable thresholds of protein biomarkers in the saliva of the potentially concussed and sub-concussed https://www2.gmu.edu/news/581166.

Dieter Pfoser, Geography and Geoinformation Science, and Nektaria Tryfona, College of Science, were featured in an article titled “Predictive Analytics ID Youth Risk Factors, Improve Outcomes” in GovTech. https://www.govtech.com/analytics/Predictive-Analytics-ID-Youth-Risk-Factors-Improve-Outcomes.html

Peter Plavchan, Physics and Astronomy, was selected from a strong field of nominees to visit the University of Southern Queensland in Australia in 2020 through the Research Giants program. The award carries a value of $4,000 to fund the proposed visit to USQ. He was also awarded $478,549 for Precise Near-Infrared Radial Velocity Mass Measurements of Planet Candidates Identified by the NASA TESS mission by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center. Plavchan also received $14,383 for Perform detailed modeling analysis of various EPRV architectures by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prime Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In addition, he was also the recipient of the 2019 College of Science Dean’s Early Career Excellence Award. The Dean’s Early Career Excellence Award is presented to a tenure-track faculty member in the College who has achieved notable success since January 2019 and has increased the profile of their Department and the College of Science.

Larry Rockwood, Biology, was presented with the 2019 College of Science Dean’s Lifetime Contribution Award. Rockwood has been an integral part of George Mason University for 45 years, during which time he served a total of 16 years as the Chair of Biology within the College of Science. His contributions have significantly impacted the growth and success of the University and the College.

Karen Sauer, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $412,430 for Magnetometers for detection of explosives in car portals, phase 2 by Polaris Alpha Advanced Systems, Inc. Prime Sponsor: Department of Defense (DOD).

Shobita Satyapal, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $186,715 for The Secular Growth of Supermassive Black Holes: An XMM-Newton Investigation of Bulgeless Galaxies by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.  She was also awarded $84,760 for The first systematic broad-band X-ray study of extreme accretion onto supermassive black holes with NuSTAR and XMMNewton by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.

David Straus, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, presented at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, at the Fourth Symposium on Multiscale Predictability: Data-model Integration and Uncertainty Quantification for Weather, Climate and Earth System Monitoring and Prediction: Joint Session 19 Joint Session on Scale Interactions and Predictability—In Memory of Fuqing Zhang: Part II. The title of Straus’ presentation was “Ensemble Prediction and Predictability of Extreme Weather on Subseasonal-to-Seasonal Time Scales Using Circulation Regimes.”

Monique van Hoek, Systems Biology, was awarded $314,000 for Novel cell-penetrating peptide-nucleic acid to induce "suicide" via newly identified toxin-antitoxin system in MDR Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm by the U.S. Department of the Army.

Joseph Weingartner, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $9,350 for Newman P&A Student Fund via the George Mason University Foundation.

Jie Zhang, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $50,000 for WSA Coronal and Solar Wind Modeling Research and Development Support by the Catholic University of America. Prime Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Andreas Zufle, Geography and Geoinformation Science, along with a collaborator from Siemens AG received the Best Paper Runner-Up award at the 16th International Symposium on Spatial and Temporal Databases (SSTD) 2019 for their paper titled "Representative Query Answers on Uncertain Data.”