Article by Mary McLean and Debbie Freund
Dr. Jan Rychtář has been selected as the Junior Research Excellence Award winner for his work on game theoretical models in biology. The associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has published over 45 high-quality pieces of research in international journals. As one colleague states, “Such a publication record in mathematics, most of them in renowned international journals, is simply spectacular.”
Rychtář earned his PhD in 2004 from the University of Alberta, with a concentration in functional analysis. By 2007 he had published 10 papers within this field. His work since then has focused on three areas of applied and interdisciplinary mathematics: evolution of kleptoparasitism (or stealing behaviour), evolution in structured populations, and mathematical models of honey bees. Two large NSF grants currently fund Rychtář’s work. He also serves as a Co-PI on a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant entitled “Interdisciplinary Quantitative Science REU at UNCG”.
As an applied mathematician, Dr. Rychtář demonstrates a remarkable record of collaboration with faculty from other departments. As one nominator and collaborator said of their work together, “I know of no-one else in the world who would be able to bring together mathematical tools of sufficient complexity with an understanding of the appropriate biology to include in models. In this sense Dr. Rychtář is unique internationally, and clearly an outstanding researcher.” Dr. Rychtář is also known for his close collaboration with undergraduate students and exceptional teaching abilities. He has involved over 15 UNCG students in his revolutionary research and is continuing to make new strides in his field.
Dr. Stanley Faeth has been selected as the Senior Research Excellence Award winner for his extensive work within the UNCG Biology Department, where he currently serves as head. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of plant-fungi-herbivore-natural enemy interactions and how urbanization affects arthropod diversity. The inclusion of his work in many top-tier journals, the frequency with which his publications are cited (including a seminal piece in 1998 with more than 300 citations), and an impressive history of 30 years of continuous external funding are all evidence of the important contributions he has made to the fields of terrestrial and urban ecology.
Along with his published research, Dr. Faeth has served on several grant review panels for the National Science Foundation and is a PI on a major NSF training grant that places biology graduate students in public school classrooms providing enriched training for science graduate students and enhanced educational opportunities for K-12 students. In the words of one of his nominators, “Stan’s approach to ecology is unique.”
Dr. Faeth has utilized new technologies and alternative forms of analysis and is consistently seeking collaborators from outside his field in an effort to enhance and expand his work. He is known for his remarkable execution of the technical aspects of his research as well as the manner in which he interacts with colleagues and students in the laboratory and beyond. Dr. Faeth has published 30 papers over the past 5 years despite the significant administrative demands he has faced as a head during a fiscally challenging time in a large and complex department. In attesting to Dr. Faeth’s significant contributions to the field of ecology, one colleague states, “Stan does not just talk the talk – he walks the walk.”
UNCG established the campus-wide Research Excellence Awards in 1988 on the principle that “creating and diffusing knowledge is a formal obligation of the University.” Work by research excellence awardees “contributes in an exemplary fashion to this end.” Each year, a scholar at the rank of professor receives the Senior Research Excellence Award and a cash honorarium of $7,500, while a scholar at the rank of assistant or associate professor receives the Junior Research Excellence Award and $4,500.
Do you know a professor who should receive next year’s Research Excellence Award? You can nominate them by clicking on this link for a copy of the Nomination Packet which includes the guidelines, selection criteria and the cover sheet. This year, all materials are to be submitted electronically. The Nomination Packet, including the signed nomination cover sheet, should be scanned as a PDF file and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Dec. 13, 2013.
Article author Mary McLean is a Media and Communication Intern with the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development. She researches and writes articles about the on and off campus impacts of UNCG research. Mary is a sophomore at UNCG, majoring in English and minoring in Media Studies. Her interest in journalism and communication led her to her current position.