Dr. Lyubov Kurkalova Senior Researcher of the Year

Economist Honored as N.C. A&T’s Top Senior Researcher

Dr. Lyubov Kurkalova has been named the Senior Researcher of the Year at North Carolina A&T State University. She is an economist specializing in environmental and natural resource economics, applied econometrics and conservation policies in agriculture.

She is one of six top researchers from across the N.C. A&T campus who received the 2015 Research Excellence Awards. The annual awards are A&T’s highest recognition for research.

Kurkalova’s research reflects the dual nature of her appointment in both economics and the interdisciplinary department of energy and environmental systems. Her work focuses on bio-energy production and policy and their connection to land use and environmental problems such as water pollution, loss of soil carbon and climate change.

As an economist conducting applied research on contemporary, policy-related problems, Kurkalova has published widely in outlets ranging from academic economics and interdisciplinary journals to others oriented toward practitioners and professionals in interested in agriculture, conservation and bioenergy issues. She is the principal investigator or co-PI on 15 research grants with a total value of $8.6 million.

Kurkalova came to A&T in 2007.

This year’s Research Excellence Award winners include:

Outstanding Young Investigators (tie)

Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan

Department of Nanoengineering

Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Aravamudhan’s interests lie at the intersection of micro/nanotechnology and life sciences, with an overarching goal to question and better understand how biological systems function. The hypothesis is that by using unique phenomena at the micro and nano-length scales and by shrinking devices to a scale comparable to typical biological system, fundamental biological questions can be addressed. His research interests include nanobioelectronics, microsystems and nanotechnology tools for disease diagnostics and regenerative medicine, and structure-property relationship in nanostructures.

Dr. Manoj K. Jha

Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

College of Engineering

Jha, a civil engineer, conducts research in a variety of fields in environmental and water resources engineering, including hydrology, surface and subsurface water quality, watershed modeling, water resources engineering, global climate change, land cover and land-use change impact analysis, GIS-supported spatial analyses and model applications, erosion and sedimentation, groundwater modeling and development. He has conducted research in the Gulf of Mexico and a variety of locations in Africa, including Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania.

Rookie of the Year

Dr. Ali Karimoddini

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

College of Engineering

Karimoddini’s research focuses on control engineering and its application to robotic systems, modeling of biological systems and reliability and safety of cyber-physical systems such as smart power grids and traffic control systems. A particular interest is cooperative control of teams of autonomous systems. He played a key role in developing the recently funded $5 million proposal to create a Center of Excellence in Autonomy.

Intellectual Property Awards

Dr. Ellie H. Fini

Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

College of Engineering

Fini invented an adhesive derived from swine manure and established a spin-off company that is the university’s exclusive licensee of the technology. Her team competed in several national and international business plan competitions, winning the ACC Clean Energy Challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy MegaWatt competition, the International Mass Challenge Competition and Charlotte Venture. Fini is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award and has received $1.7 million in sponsored funding to support her research.

Dr. Jianmei Yu

Department of Family and Consumer Sciences,

School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Yu developed a technology for producing the world’s first commercially available hypoallergenic peanuts. The technology is patented and was licensed in 2014. Another research interest is value-added utilization of agricultural byproducts, including bioactive compounds, including grape pomace, peanut skins and oat/corn bran. Yu has authored or co-authored 15 grant proposals, 12 of which have been funded at a total of $3.9 million.