Research and Creative Achievement — Professional Promise awards honor faculty members who are early in their careers for excellence in research, scholarship, and creative achievement.
Paul Armsworth is passionate about finding efficiencies in conservation efforts. The assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology uses mathematical modeling to research the role of species’ movement in ecology and evolutionary biology and the biological and economic consequences of natural resource development. His work has important consequences for conservation ecology and the design of effective conservation investment strategies. Described as “one of the top people of any age working at the interface between theoretical ecology and conservation biology,” Armsworth is editor of two journals in his field, attracts excellent graduate students, and has built a well-funded lab.
Most days Micah Jessup, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, can be found collecting or studying samples and pictures from the Himalayas or the Andes mountains. By combining the powerful trifecta of field-based work, sound use of quantitative methods, and lab-based rock characterization, he is piecing together the puzzle that shows the formation of mountain ranges during plate collision. His research has important implications for addressing problems related to mountain range development. Less than six years after completing his dissertation, Jessup has been recognized by senior colleagues as one of the very best structural geologists and tectonicists of his generation in North America. Since arriving at UT in 2007, Jessup has published fourteen papers in highly ranked journals and mentored more than fifteen graduate and undergraduate students.
The research of Norman Manella holds promise for improving technology for energy storage, sensors, and electronics, to name a few. The assistant professor in physics is involved in projects that focus on understanding main-body interactions in strongly correlated electron systems such as high-temperature semiconductors and magnetic materials. His experiments require very sophisticated instrumentation and access to highly competitive laboratories around the world. Manella’s work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation, from which he has received the early-investigator CAREER award.
Qixin Zhong’s research program focuses on improving our food’s safety, quality, and healthfulness through the application of biophysics and nanotechnology. Specifically, the associate professor of food science and technology’s research program focuses on the discovery of physically inspired materials and processes through the creation and understanding of nanoscale materials. Zhong’s research has so far generated a total of eight patents and invention disclosures. His accolades include the Institute of Food Technologists 2012 Samuel Cate Prescott Award for outstanding work in food science research, one of the highest individual honors presented by the organization. Additionally, Zhong has mentored nine doctoral students and seven master’s students and helped establish the Food Biopolymers Research Group in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Zhong serves as an associate editor of the journal Food Biophysics and is an editorial board member for three other journals.