UNCG Research

2014-15 Research Excellence Awards

Rogers and Oberlies, theology and fungi

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 by UNCG Research.

­­UNCG Research congratulates Dr. Eugene Rogers and Dr. Nicholas Oberlies, our 2014-2015 Research Excellence Award winners.

Dr. Eugene Rogers receives the Senior Research Excellence Award for his scholarship on Christian theology. Since joining UNCG in 2005, the religious studies professor has become one of our most productive humanities scholars. He is also a national and international leader in the study of Christian thought. In recommending Rogers for the award, colleagues named him “one of the very best scholars of Christian theology” and “among the five best theologians working in the world today.”

Rogers is acclaimed for the grace and intelligence of his writing, which captures audiences well beyond academia and the church. His books include Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth: Sacred Doctrine and the Natural Knowledge of God; Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way Into the Triune God; and the upcoming Analogy of Blood. Colleagues call the first book “a classic” and the second, one of the “essential theology books of the past 25 years.”

The professor, who is also faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies program, was educated at Princeton, Tübingen, Rome, and Yale.  He was a Eli Lilly Visiting Associate Professor of Christian Thought and Practice in the Religion Department at Princeton University and has held fellowships or residencies from the Fulbright Commission, the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Lilly Foundation, the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton Seminary, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, Tantur Ecumenical Research Institute in Jerusalem, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Templeton Foundation. Rogers currently serves on the board of electors for Cambridge University’s Regius Professorship of Divinity, which was founded in 1541 by Henry VIII.


Dr. Nicholas Oberlies receives the Junior Research Excellence Award for his research on biologically active compounds from nature and their potential in the treatment of disease. The associate professor, who focuses on bioactive compounds from fungi in particular, is a leading scientist in his field. In recommending the Oberlies for this award, an international colleague placed him “among the very top researchers in the field of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry,” while another described his research team as “one of the leading groups in the US in Phytochemistry.”

Oberlies joined UNCG in 2009, after a decade at the Research Triangle Institute that included directing the RTI Natural Products Laboratory. At UNCG, he has been one of the most productive members of his cohort. He has over 100 peer-reviewed papers, with more than 60 produced at UNCG – an outstanding rate of output for a faculty member in his field.

Since his appointment, Oberlies has served as PI or Co-PI on several major grants totaling close to $15 million, $3 million of which came to UNCG. He is currently funded by five major NIH grants, with projects including the “Discovery of Anticancer Agents of Diverse Natural Origin” and “Mechanisms Underlying Drug-Diet Interactions.” Oberlies established the Natural Products and Drug Discovery Center at UNCG and has served as a driving force behind the growing prominence of his department’s PhD program in medicinal biochemistry. He is also known for his enthusiasm and charisma in communicating his research and for his successful mentorship of a large group of graduate and undergraduate students.

Educated at Purdue University and Miami University, Oberlies has received several awards, including the Matt Suffness Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy, the 40 under 40 Leadership Award from the Triangle Business Journal, and the North Carolina Distinguished Speaker Award from the NC Section of the American Chemical Society.


The campus-wide Research Excellence recognition program was established in 1988 on the principle that creating and diffusing knowledge is a formal obligation of the University. Work by 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.

Awardees are selected based on the importance of their contributions to the field, the originality of their work, the execution of their research, the pattern of their research productivity, and the academic reputation of the journals, publishing houses, exhibitions, and professional presentations in which their work has appeared.