Oberlies & Maher are UNCG’S 2024 Research Excellence Award Winners

Posted on March 27, 2024

Students working within research lab wearing lab coats at UNCG

Congratulations to our 2024 Research Excellence Awards winners, Dr. Nicholas Oberlies and Dr. Jaclyn Maher.

Dr. Jaclyn Maher, associate professor of kinesiology, receives the Early Career Research Excellence Award for her scholarship on the psychology of physical activity.

Dr. Maher’s pioneering research adopts a dual process lens, which recognizes physical activity is rooted in both a person’s conscious decisions and unconscious actions. She studies behavior in real-time by utilizing innovative approaches, such as wearable and mobile technologies, that allow her to capture nuances of everyday life that can influence physical activity.

Maher, who co-directs the UNCG Physical Activity and Lifetime Wellness Laboratory, has a particular interest in studying hard-to-access populations, including older adults. She received a R15 award from the NIH National Institute on Aging for $423,565 to monitor behavior and motivations of older adults’ health behaviors over micro-time scales, using an approach known as ecological momentary assessment to capture their motivations and behavior in real-time. Maher has received a variety of additional grants and awards to support her research, including a Research Endowment Grant from the American College of Sports Medicine for $10,000.

Since arriving at UNCG in 2017, Maher’s publication record is impressive in both quantity and quality. She has published 63 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and she is the first author on nearly half of these publications. Many of her publications are in top-tier outlets, including the Annals of Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology. Her work has been cited over 3,000 times. She has been recognized both nationally and within the university with multiple prestigious awards, including the 2023 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity.

In addition to her impressive scholarly productivity, Maher is a dedicated mentor. She has supervised 34 undergraduates, including students from the McNair Scholar Program and the American Heart Association HBCU’s Scholar Program, on individual research projects,  resulting in 4 papers and 12 conference presentations with undergraduate coauthors. She has mentored 13 graduate students, serving as chair for four.

Dr. Nicholas Oberlies, the Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, receives the Senior Research Excellence Award for his natural products chemistry scholarship.

Oberlies is renowned for his work in drug discovery from filamentous fungi – a line of research that could result in improved treatments for a variety of diseases, including cancer and malaria. He also investigates herbal drugs, such as milk thistle and kratom, to develop reference standards and determine chemical composition and safety.

Leveraging an extensive background in industry, Oberlies’s research productivity has skyrocketed since joining UNCG in 2009 to help build the PhD program in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He has published over 250 research articles, which have been cited over 17,000 times. Oberlies is active in presenting his research and is a sought-after speaker, with over 100 invited oral presentations. He has also shared his expertise with the research community by serving on the editorial advisory board of 5 major journals in his field. Oberlies is also the past president and a current fellow of the American Society of Pharmacognosy.

Oberlies has garnered significant grant funding, including being the principal investigator on a R21 award from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for approximately $400,000 focused on investigating fungi for potential anti-malarial drugs. One of Oberlies’s many strengths is his ability to collaborate successfully with researchers worldwide. For example, he is a principal investigator on one arm of a P01 grant investigating anticancer agents, which has been renewed twice, resulting in over $7 million in research funding.

Due to his research productivity and innovative approaches, Oberlies has been recognized as a leader both within UNCG and across his field. He received a Distinguished Speaker Award from the American Chemical Society in 2011, UNCG’s Junior Research Excellence Award in 2015, and the Matt Suffness Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy in 2005. Oberlies is a strong mentor, having advised 6 postdoctoral associates, 22 graduate students, and scores of undergraduates. Many of his graduate students published extensively during their studies, with two students publishing 11 research articles each from their time in Oberlies’s laboratory.

Announcement by Rachel Damiani

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