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2022 AchievementsRecent faculty, student, and alumni accomplishments

The distinct silhouette of AU's Hall of Science

Laurie Bayet (Neuroscience) received a $577,408 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project titled “Grounding computational models of vision with infant brain data.” Bayet has been selected as one of two Distinguished Early Career Contribution Award recipients for 2022 by the International Congress of Infant Studies. This is awarded to an early career scientist who has established a significant, independent record of scholarly work and advanced the scientific understanding of human infancy.

Douglas Fox (Chemistry) received a $136,987 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the project titled “Covalently Crosslinked Intumescing Coatings for Fire Protecting Wood & Fabrics.” 

Amos Golan (Economics) recently published two papers: “Information Theory: A Foundation for Complexity Science” and “Understanding the Constraints in Maximum Entropy Methods for Modeling and Inference.” 

Matthew Hartings (Chemistry) received a $23,476 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the project titled “Photonic Sensors for Measuring Radiation Dosage.” 

Caroline Kuo (Health Studies) received a $39,781 grant from Brown University (through the National Institutes of Health) for the project titled “Advancing Integrated Alcohol-HIV Training of Frontline Providers in a Global Priority Setting.”  

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke with RTV Russian Television, acTVism Munich, RTVI, CGTN, Republic TV India, and NTV Russia about a variety of topics surrounding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

David Ramos (Art) spoke with NPR Weekend about the transformation of DC’s shorelines and how our history affects flood risks.

David Reznik (Sociology) spoke with USA Today about Bi+ allyship, drawing from his own experiences.

Stacy Snelling (Health Studies) received a $32,164 grant from Home Care Partners under the DC Department of Aging and Community Living for the project titled “Safe at Home Program Evaluation.”

Catherine Stoodley (Neuroscience) received a $13,579 grant (incrementally funded over two years for a total of $27,565) from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for the project titled “Cerebellar Modulation for Children-Neurodevelopmental Challenges.”

Santiago Toledo (Chemistry) spoke with the Washington Post about how the rare element helium is used not just for party balloons, but rockets, smartphones, and medical equipment too.

Claudia Watts (Art History, MA student) spoke with the Washington Post about how she would spend the perfect day in DC.


TESOL alumni Debora Amidani and Carlye Stevens are incorporating a digital storytelling project by Polina Vinogradova (WLC) into their adult English language classes at DC’s Family Place Public Charter School.

Naomi Baron (WLC) weighed in on the use of “LOL” in the workplace in an article for MSNBC.

Terry Davidson (Neuroscience) contributed expertise to an article in the Parent Herald on childhood obesity and brain function.

Nika Elder (Art History) co-edited essays for the current issue of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum journal.

Jessica Gephart (Environmental Science) was awarded a $785,000 NSF grant to develop a global seafood trade network database for sustainable food systems, human health, and nutrition security.

Boris Gershman's (Economics) research on the evil eye was cited in the Washington Post.

Kiho Kim (Environmental Science) is co-PI on an $800,000 NSF grant entitled “Noyce Scholar Retention in Racially and Culturally Non-dominant Communities: Partnerships and Persistence.”

Kiho Kim (Environmental Science) is co-PI on a $300,000 NSF grant to develop enhanced teaching and learning through problem-based pedagogy. Karen Knee and Barbara Balestra are also participating in this research, which partially focuses on our Habits of Mind class, ENVS 150 (the Nature of Earth).

Karen Knee (Environmental Science) and collaborators at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Washington State University–Vancouver were recently awarded a 3-year, $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from trees.

Pankaj Kumar (Physics) was awarded a $265,312 NSF grant for Collaborative Research: SHINE: Where Are Particles Accelerated in Coronal Jets?

Peter Kuznick (History) appeared on and spoke to “CrossTalk” RT, Republic TV India, Soloviev LIVE, Malaysia Sun, and Agua Media about Ukraine and the Middle East.

Adam McKay (Physics), AU research professor and research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will become one of the first people to use the James Webb Space Telescope later this month. He was featured in AU Magazine.

Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska (History) appeared in Netflix’s D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?! to give expertise on 1970s history and culture.

Catherine Stoodley (Neuroscience) was awarded a $396,041 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for “Effects of age and lesion location on motor, behavioral and cognitive outcomes in pediatric posterior fossa tumors.”

Isabel Rivero-Vila’s (WLC) film Afrykas et le Bôite Magique won several awards: Best Documentary Feature at the Cannes Independent Film Festival and Best Indigenous Film at The African Film Festival. The film was an Official Selection at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival.

Alexander Zestos (Chemistry) has constructed a novel carbon electrode pH sensor that can be implanted into human tissue to measure fast pH changes in the brain.


Joanne Allen (Art History) published Transforming the Church Interior in Renaissance Florence (Cambridge University Press, 2022). 

Michael Brenner (History) published an article in The Conversation based on his book, In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism

John Bracht (Biology) received a $425,184 grant from NIH for the project titled “Investigating the molecular basis of evolved stress resilience in a subterrestrial nematode.” 

Raychelle Burks (Chemistry) won The Center for Teaching, Research & Learning’s 2021-2022 Milton and Sonia Greenberg Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. 

Laura Cutler (Center for Israel Studies) received a $50,000 grant from The Israel Institute, Inc., for the project “Teaching Expansion grant for AY 2022-23.”

Bernhard Gunter (Economics), together with co-authors Bong Sun Seo and Farah Tasneem, was awarded the International Award for Excellence by the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies.

Philip Johnson (Physics) received a $212,980 grant (incrementally funded over three years for a total of $405,044) from NASA for the project titled “Interpreting Cassini CIRS Data with a Photochemical Model using Improved ab initio Reaction Rate Coefficients.” 

Anna Kaplan (History) and Donelle Boose (CRGC) produced “The Disappearing of Sister Koko, with Prof. D. Boose,” as part of Porchtales, a new podcast sponsored by the Humanities Council of DC.

Sara Clarke Kaplan (Antiracist Research and Policy Center)spoke with NBC News 4 Washington about what has changed across the country two years after George Floyd’s death. 

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke to BBC Culture, Satoko Oka Norimatsu of the Peace Philosophy Centre, CGTN, Petra Star Media, Postscript on TVC, NTV Network, and ASEAAN MEDIA Production Co. about a variety of topics ranging from rising tensions between the US and China to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket film’s 35th anniversary.

Stephen MacAvoy (Environmental Science) received a $15,000 grant from the University of the District of Columbia for the project “Exploring anomalously high calcium in suburban MD streams in the absence of bedrock carbonate and geochemical indicators of concrete dissolution.” 

Aaron Posner (Theatre) is directing The Rivals at American Players Theatre in Spring Hill, Wisconsin this summer. 

Isabel Rivero-Vila’s (World Languages and Cultures) documentary film Afrykas et le Bôite Magique was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Cannes Independent Film Festival, awarded Best Indigenous Film at The African Film Festival (TAFF), and was chosen as an Official Selection at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TINFF). 

Stacy Snelling (Health Studies) received a $27,500 grant from DC Public Schools for the project titled “DCPS HOPE Model Expansion: Teacher Well-Being Assessment and Evaluation.”

Rachel Louise Snyder (Literature) wrote a New York Times opinion essay on the importance of taking action to address gun violence

Philosophy and Religion alum Angela Vega went to the White House to speak on reproductive rights for Disabled Americans.

Jon Wisman (Economics) published The Origins and Dynamics of Inequality: Sex, Politics, and Ideology (Oxford University Press, 2022)


Laura Beers (History) published “Opinion: George Orwell is exactly the right voice for our time” on CNN discussing how “1984” and terms like “Orwellian” have been used and abused for decades, and how they relate to current events.

Public Health alumna Annika Bergstrom (CAS/BS ’15) won the United States Public Health Service 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award.

Stefano Costanzi (Chemistry) received $178,721 from the Henry L. Stimson Center for "CHEMINFORMATICS – A Chemical Weapons Non-Proliferation Compliance Tool.”

Kyle Dargan (Literature) served as editor for The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, published by Harper Collins, which ranked #10 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ignacio Gonzalez Garcia (Economics) received $598,097 from the New Venture Fund for "Aggregate, Sectorial and Distributional Effects of Corporate Taxation.”

Katie Holton (Health Studies) received $6,370,662 from the Department of Defense for “Confirmation of the Low Glutamate Diet as a Treatment for Gulf War Illness.”

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke to CGTN, Political Misfits, RT TV, Postscript TVC, Sputnik News about a variety of topics ranging from rising tensions between the US and China to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Ethan Mereish (Health Studies) received $681,498 in the first year of a five-year project totalling $3,141,383 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - NIAAA for the project “Confirmation of the Low Glutamate Diet as a Treatment for Gulf War Illness.”

Pamela Nadell (History) spoke to the Christian Science Monitor about the great replacement theory in “Replacement Theory: The view from an immigration-wary Georgia district.”

Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Literature) spoke with Becky Burgum of Elle UK about The Implications for British Women Following The Roe V. Wade Leak.

David Pike’s (Literature) new book was reviewed by PopMatters in the article titled “The Bunkered Decades: Digging Into The Atom Bomb’s Effect On Cold War America.”


Laurie Bayet (Neuroscience) was recognized as a Rising Star by the APS.

Ernesto Castañeda (Sociology) contributed to an article on CNY Central titled “Biden Administration Prepares for Influx of Asylum-Seekers as Title 42 Nears End.”

Daniel Kerr (History) received a $100,000 grant from Henry Luce Foundation for “Humanities Truck Project Bridge Funding.”

Jeffrey Kaplan (Biology) was featured in Farmers Advance in an article titled “Long Nails Are In, but What Lies Underneath? Bacteria and Fungi, an Expert Says.”

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke to CGTN, Republic TV, Law and Disorder Radio, One Channel (Moscow, Russia), Sputnik Radio, Russia Today TV, RTVI, VAO News, Republic TV India, Tehran Times, acTVism Munich, The Straits Times, Iranian Council for Defending the Truth, and Fox 29 Philadelphia about a variety of topics ranging from US-Afghanistan relations to the evolving Russia-Ukraine war.

Dennis Lucarelli (Physics) received a $31,153 grant from Trustees of Dartmouth College for the project, “Quantum Characterization and Model Reduction for Fault-Tolerant Qubit Networks.” This project is to be awarded an additional 2 years of funding, making the grand total of the award $96,291.

Michael Robinson (Math/Stat) received a $110,598 grant from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for the project, “Modeling and Analytic Capabilities for KBase”


Bruce J. Berger (Literature) published his second novel, The Music Stalker (Black Rose Writing).

Michael Brenner (History) published In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism (Princeton University Press).

Three American University women, including chemistry professor Raychelle Burks and archaeologist Becca Peixotto (CAS/MA ’13, CAS/PhD ’17) were featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s #IfThenSheCan exhibition, which showcases life-sized statues of 120 STEM innovators.

Ernesto Castañeda (Sociology) spoke with Telemundo about the historic and economic contribution of immigrants in the DC region.

Patricia Park (Literature) shared a guest essay on Anti-Asian hate and rising political organization by Asian Americans in the New York Times.

David Pike (Literature) published a piece in The Conversation: “With threats of nuclear war and climate disaster growing, America’s ‘bunker fantasy’ is woefully inadequate.”

Nancy Snider (Performing Arts) received a $12,500 grant from the Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation for the project titled “Koster Foundation Summer Study Grant for Music Majors.”

Alumna Meredith Weisel (CAS BA’97) was named regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Washington, DC.

February 2022

Will Barnes (Physics) received a $41,838 grant from NASA for his project titled “Python Development for the CHIANTI Database.”

John Bracht (Biology) and peers from Howard University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of the District of Columbia Community College, published an academic commentary in the journal Cell, titled “4 Ways to Help STEM Majors Stay the Course.”

Stefano Costanzi (Chemistry) published an article in The Non-Proliferation Review, titled "Strengthening Controls on Novichoks: a Family-based Approach to Covering A-series Agents and Precursors under the Chemical-Weapons Nonproliferation Regime." (Co-author: Gregory Koblentz, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University).

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke with NTV Russian Television, RTVI, Channel One Russia, RT America, Political Misfits, TASS, TV Channel One Russia, Sputnik News, acTVism Munich, and Tehran Times about Russia/Ukraine relations.

Mary Gray (Mathematics and Statistics) and her late husband, Alfred, were honored by the Association for Women in Mathematics with a named award, the Mary and Alfie Gray Award for Social Justice.

Sara Clarke Kaplan (Literature, ARPC) spoke to NPR about Black History Month: “Why Is February Black History Month?”

John Nolan (Mathematics and Statistics) has been accepted into the Fulbright Specialist Program for a tenure of four years.

Catherine Stoodley (Neuroscience) received a grant from NIH for the project titled “Cerebellum and Autism: Regional Specialization for Social and Executive Functions.”

Jenni Walkup (student, Anthropology, ‘21) published a report for the Cost of War Project, “Beyond the War Paradigm: What History Tells Us about How Terror Campaigns End.”

January 2022

The latest book by Naomi S. Baron (Professor Emeritus, Linguistics), How We Read Now (Oxford University Press, 2021), was selected as a finalist for the 2022 PROSE Awards. The PROSE Awards are given annually by the Association of American Publishers and honor scholarly works published in the preceding year.

Hanning Chen (Chemistry) was awarded $59,259 from George Washington University for “Partnership: Development of Single- and Double-Atom Catalysts for Treating Agricultural Wastewater.”

Kathleen Holton (Neuroscience and Health Studies) was awarded a $6.3 million grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to continue examining the effects of a low glutamate diet on the neurological symptoms of Gulf War Illness.

Nicole Lorenzo (Psychology) was awarded $43,817 from the University of Maryland for her project “2/2 Treating Mothers with ADHD and their Young Children Via Telehealth: A Hybrid Type I Effectiveness-Implementation Trail.”

Students Olivia Gonyea, Yongyi Lu, Anita Novillo, Jessie Sadel, Aria Wanek, and Kai Wasson (Health Studies) won the Harrison C. Spencer Interprofessional Prize at the 8th annual DC Public Health Case Challenge, sponsored by the National Academy of Medicine.

Laura Juliano (Psychology) talked with CBC Radio on the variety of symptoms people may experience when quitting caffeine. 

Peter Kuznick (History) spoke to Sputnik News, TASS Russian News Agency, RT America, CGTN, McGill Journal of Political Studies, Channel One Russia, RTVI, NTV, WPFW, Tehran Times, Iran Daily, and acTVism Munich about a variety of topics surrounding Ukraine, Iran, and US foreign relations.

Alumna Wendy Lower (History) won the 2021 National Jewish Book Award in Holocaust Studies for The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed (Mariner Books, 2021). 

Adam McKay (Physics) was awarded $30,940 by NASA for his project titled “Optical Observations of Comets as a Probe into Cometary Composition.”

Jin Y. Park (Philosophy and Religion) has been awarded the Uberoi Foundation Religious Studies Grant in the amount of $25,000 for her project “Buddhism and Nonviolence.”

Anastasia Snelling (Health Studies) received $100,000 from the District of Columbia Department of Health for the project “Multi-Component Obesity Prevention in Targeted Settings.”

Catherine Stoodley (Neuroscience) has been awarded $445,165 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for “Cerebellum and autism: Regional specialization for social and executive functions.”

Jon Wisman (Economics) published “Economic Causes of War and Peace: Overview” in Kurtz, L.R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, vol. 1. Elsevier, Academic Press, 2022: 47–57.


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