University of Tennessee professors receive NSF's CAREER Award

By: Hunter Nark Email
By: Hunter Nark Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Three professors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have received National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards.

David Jenkins, an assistant professor in chemistry; Jaan Mannik, an assistant professor in physics; and Jeff Reinbolt, an assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering, will use the monetary awards to support their research and educational activities.

The CAREER award is the NSF's most prestigious honor for junior faculty who demonstrate outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Jenkins won $650,000 over five years, beginning May 1. Jenkins' research group will design new catalysts for forming aziridines. Aziridines are found in natural products that have antitumor and antibiotic properties, and are crucial in pharmaceutical research.

Mannik won $635,000 over five years, beginning March 1. Mannik's research group will be investigating how the most basic cellular functions, DNA replication and cell division, depend on the cell shape using Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells. These studies can point out new molecular targets for antibiotics, and develop micro- and nanoengineered chips that can be used in many laboratories for live cell imaging.

Reinbolt's award includes a $417,000 grant over five years, beginning June 1. The CAREER project will allow Reinbolt and his graduate students to develop scientific tools and simulations to improve rehabilitation for stroke victims.

In addition, the professors will perform outreach activities.

Jenkins' team will work with Central High School in the Pre-Collegiate Scholar Program and the development of new teaching materials for Advanced Placement Chemistry labs.

Mannik's team will supervise students from UT's VolsTeach program in their research methods course, provide opportunities for high school and undergraduate students to obtain interdisciplinary research experience, and perform presentations and lab tours for UT's Educational Advancement Program with the aim of motivating participating students to choose careers in science.

Reinbolt's group will create an app of his findings and also be involved with the Pre-Collegiate Research Scholars along with College of Engineering outreach programs for underrepresented groups.


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