Temple’s million dollar researchers mark milestone
| Chemistry’s Eric Borguet (right) is one of the newest members of Temple $1 Million Research Awards Club. Borguet, who joined Temple in 2004 from the University of Pittsburgh, uses ultra-fast lasers and molecule resolution microscopes to examine and understand interfacial and nanoscale phenomena at a fundamental level. He has helped to expand the university’s research enterprise in nano-science through support from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy.
|(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)
What does a million dollars mean to a researcher? For Emily Keshner, reaching this threshold meant that she could focus on her scientific quest and stop scrambling for funding.
“It gave me some breathing room and allowed me to get to work,” said Keshner, one of 13 newly minted members of Temple’s $1 Million Research Awards Club, which was created to honor and publicly recognize highly funded faculty, as well as underscore the importance of research at Temple University.
Keshner, who joined the Temple faculty last year from Northwestern University as the new chair of the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions, hit the million-dollar milestone in 2000 when she was awarded three large grants in one year. She studies the influence of visual perception on posture and spatial orientation.
Since the club’s inception just three years ago, membership has burgeoned, growing 45 percent, from 73 to 106 members.
New faculty members have driven much of this growth. Part of a five-year faculty recruitment push, many of these star scientists come from prestigious research universities, like Gary Foster from the University of Pennsylvania, Eric Borguet from the University of Pittsburgh and Stephen Lepore from Columbia University, and often bring well-established and well-funded research programs and even entire labs.
The growth in new faculty and major research funding shows no signs of abating. The faculty recruitment effort is now at the midpoint with 150 new hires since 2004 and about 150 more expected by 2009.
“Our goal is to provide a stimulating, supportive environment where research can thrive and grow and where investigators can be successful, externally funded researchers at all stages of their careers,” said Kenneth J. Soprano, vice president for research and graduate studies, who established the club and is also a member.
In addition to Keshner, new members are Lepore in the College of Health of Health Professions; Nora Newcombe in the College of Liberal Arts; Barbara Wasik in the College of Education; Borguet, Zoran Obradovic and Scott Sieberth in the College of Science and Technology; Doina Ganea, Xavier Grana-Amat, Dale Haines, Lynn Kirby, Elizabeth Moran, Robert Suhadolnik and Hong Wang in the School of Medicine; and Foster, who holds a dual appointment in the College of Health Professions and the School of Medicine.
New member Kirby, who joined Temple from the University of Pennsylvania two years ago, received her million-dollar award in the form of an “RO1 grant,” or Research Project Grant, which is the original and historically oldest grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health. She studies the effects of stress and stress hormones on the serotonin system and their role in models of anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
Kirby considers the grant a benchmark achievement in her career. “It gives me a sense of independence and will allow me to hire scientists and staff to build my lab,” she said.
— Eryn Jelesiewicz