UofL's second cohort of ‘ascending star’ researchers tackle feminist bioethics, wastewater, solar, human rights, health promotion, oppression, Black education, and more

From top left: Stuart J. Williams, Kristi King, Ahmad Washington, Che Rhodes, Gautam Gupta, Lauren Freeman, Jennifer Middleton, Theresa Keeley and Gung-Min Gie. These researchers and scholars have been selected for UofL’s 2022 class of Ascending Stars Fellows.

A University of Louisville program meant to help ascending star faculty shine even brighter has named nine researchers and scholars to its second cohort.

The new Ascending Star Fellowship provides mentorship, funding and other support to high-performing associate professors. The goal is to boost the national impact of the fellows’ scholarship, with a heavy focus on work in diversity, inclusion and community empowerment.

The UofL Office of Research and Innovation launched the program last year, selecting its inaugural class in partnership with the College of Arts & Sciences. This year’s class — representing four schools — includes:

  • Lauren Freeman, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy whose work focuses on feminist bioethics, specifically on clinical encounters between  health professionals and members of marginalized communities; 
  • Gung-Min Gie an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics whose work focuses on developing analytic and computational tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to study nonlinear fluid equations;
  • Gautam Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, whose research focuses on electrochemistry, wastewater treatment, solar cells and more; 
  • Theresa Keeley, an associate professor in the Department of History whose work lies at  the intersection of human rights, religion and foreign relations history;
  • Kristi King, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development, whose work focuses on health promotion, with a particular focus on underserved populations and rural communities;
  • Jennifer Middleton, an associate professor in the Kent School of Social Work, whose work focuses on utilizing trauma-informed organizational change interventions to disrupt systems of oppression and investigating the scope and complexity of child trafficking across the U.S.;
  • Che Rhodes, an associate professor in the Hite Institute of Art & Design and a nationally recognized glass artist; 
  • Ahmad Washington, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development whose work focuses on the intersection between Black education and sociopolitical factors and the role sociopolitical forces play in creating disparities in Black education;
  • Stuart J. Williams, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, whose work focuses on microfluidics, electrokinetics and colloid science, including tracing the unique “DNA” of whiskey. 

“I’m extremely pleased with the quality and diversity of the work already being done by this new cohort,” said M. Cynthia Logsdon, the Office of Research and Innovation’s director of research academic programs, who leads the fellowship program. “They’re already stars, but with the Ascending Stars Fellows program, we hope to help them in advancing their scholarship, magnifying their national recognition and extending the impact of their work.”

In addition to other supports, the Office of Diversity and Equity and UofL’s ATHENA program, aimed at improving equity for female STEM faculty, will provide educational and enrichment activities geared toward advancement of diverse communities and populations.

To be considered for the program, faculty must be associate professor rank, must be nominated by their unit and must show a “consistent record of scholarship with the passion and desire to achieve greater national recognition.”

Source: UofL Selects Second Cohort of Ascending Star Researchers (UofL News, May 4, 2022)