Professors Nga Lee “Sally” Ng, Mark Prausnitz and Younan Xia of Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) are winners of 2019 Georgia Tech Faculty Awards.
At the Institute’s Faculty & Staff Honors Luncheon on April 19, Ng received the Georgia Tech Outstanding Achievement in Early Career Research Award; Prausnitz, the Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award; and Xia, the Sigma Xi Sustained Research Award.
Early Career Research Award
Associate Professor Ng’s award goes to faculty members who have made significant discoveries or advancements in their research within eight years of their initial appointment. Holding a PhD from the California Institute of Technology, Ng joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 2011.
Ng’s research program focuses on the fundamental understanding of the formation mechanisms, chemical composition, and health effects of atmospheric aerosols. Secondary organic aerosols, produced from atmospheric reactions, make up a dominant fraction of fine particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere and have substantial impacts on climate and human health.
Her research has led to discoveries of aerosol pollution in the southeastern United States and insights on the effectiveness of sulfur dioxide reduction from power plants and the significance of diurnal transitions on the fate of certain nitrogen-based aerosols.
“I am humbled to receive this honor," Ng says. "At Georgia Tech, we have a large group of researchers working on aerosols and air quality in multiple schools, including Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. This award reflects the collective strength of the aerosol research community here. It’s wonderful to have such an intellectually stimulating and collaborative environment to conduct research in aerosol science. I am grateful for the constant support of my colleagues and collaborators, and to all the amazing students and postdocs whom I have the opportunities to work with over the years.”
Her honors to date also include the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2016, and she is among the world’s Highly Cited Researchers compiled by Clarivate Analytics Web of Science.
Research Author Award
Regents’ Professor Prausnitz, who holds the J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, won the Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award for contributing to highly impactful publications describing the results of research conducted at Georgia Tech and published from the start of 2014 to the end of 2018.
Prausnitz’s research team conducts research on biophysical methods of drug delivery, which employ microneedles, lasers, electric fields, and other physical means to control drug transport in the body.
In 2017, Prausnitz published the results of a Phase I clinical trial in the medical journal The Lancet. Conducted in partnership with Emory University, the trial found that influenza vaccination using Band-Aid-like patches with dissolvable microneedles was safe and well-tolerated by study participants, was just as effective in generating immunity against influenza, and was strongly preferred by study participants over vaccination with a hypodermic needles and syringe.
"This award reflects the contributions of a team of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at Georgia Tech, as well as our collaborators at Emory University, CDC and other institutions," he says. "It has been and continues to be a pleasure to work with this creative, hard-working, and collaborative team of researchers."
Prausnitz has published numerous studies in leading journals through the years.
Sigma Xi Sustained Research Award
Professor Xia, who holds joint appointments in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received the Sustained Research Award for his outstanding research at the intersection of biomedical research and nanotechnology and the original and important contributions he has made to advance these fields. Among them are gold nanocages for medicine and molecular imaging and electrospun nanofibers for regenerative medicine.
Numerous honors and awards reflect the tremendous impact of Xia’s research. He received the Materials Research Society Medal and the Georgia Tech Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award in 2017. In 2014, he was named Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) for outstanding contributions to chemistry. The year before, he received the 2013 ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials. In 2017 and 2018, Xia was listed among the most Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate Analytics.
“I am indebted to my group members, present and former, for their tremendous efforts and dedication to scientific research,” says Xia, who holds the Brock Family Chair and is the Georgia Research Allience (GRA) Eminent Scholar in Nanomedicine. “Over the past 20 some years, I have learned a lot from my interactions with all of them. Many of the research ideas simply originated from our weekly meetings and/or their unexpected observations during experiments.”