Each year, the Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence are given in recognition of the research promise demonstrated by individual postdoctoral scholars. The awards are open to postdoctoral scholars in all disciplines and are designed to assist postdoctoral scholars in their continued professional development by supporting the recipients in conference travel, purchasing books, lab materials, or engaging in other scholarly activities that directly enhance the individual’s professional growth. Each recipient receives a monetary award of a $1,000 along with a plaque.


2016 PARE Awards Ceremony


2016 Award Recipient Information:

  aadra-bhattAadra Bhatt, Chemistry      Dr. Aadra Bhatt is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Matthew Redinbo’s laboratory in the department of Chemistry, and also a Fellow of the Center for Gastrointestinal Disease at UNC Chapel Hill. She is studying how the gut microbiome influences the development and treatment of colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Aadra graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Biology, worked as a research scientist for four years at the University of Colorado, then earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at UNC. Aadra’s goal is to improve human health by controlling how the microbiome influences cancer causes, and cancer care.


Sarah Davies, Marine Sciences     Sarah completed her Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of Victoria, Canada in 2004, her Masters of Science in Marine Sciences with Peter Vize at the University of Calgary in 2009, and her Ph.D. with Mikhail V. Matz in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. Sarah is largely interested in the factors that influence species ranges and species’ potential for adaptation, acclimatization, or dispersal to new habitats in the face of climate change. Her work at UNC focuses on understanding the transcriptomic responses of a coral host and their symbionts to ocean warming and acidification and how these responses ultimately affect the maintenance of symbiosis.


dan-dickinsonDan Dickenson, Biology    Dan is a cell biologist who is broadly interested in the mechanisms by which protein molecules, and interactions between these molecules, determine cell behavior.  Dan received his B.S. at Iowa State University and his Ph.D. at Stanford before coming to UNC in 2011. As a postdoc in Bob Goldstein’s lab, he has focused on cell polarity, a cell behavior that is important in animal development and often disrupted in cancer.  He developed tools for studying cell polarity in living animal embryos, including approaches for genome editing and single-cell biochemistry.  In his current work, supported by an NIGMS K99/R00 award, he is using these tools to study the molecular basis of polarization by a group of signaling proteins, known as the PAR system, which contribute to cell polarity in many animal cells.


toryTory Eiselohr-Moul, Psychiatry    Dr. Tory Eisenlohr-Moul earned the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2014, and completed her clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center from 2013-2014 with a focus on the evidence-based treatment of suicidality and self-injury. She completed a T32 postdoctoral fellowship in the pathophysiology of reproductive mood disorders at UNC from 2014-2016. Dr. Eisenlohr-Moul has two central research interests: (1) the role of ovarian hormone changes across the menstrual cycle in emotional and behavioral symptoms (including suicidality and substance use) among susceptible women, and (2) the development of computerized, reliable approaches to diagnosing DSM-5 premenstrual dysphoric disorder from prospective daily symptom ratings. Her current research, funded by an NIMH K99 award, utilizes within-person, placebo-controlled hormone experiments in women with recent suicidality to determine the effects of cyclical ovarian hormone dynamics on dimensional risk for suicide.



Lori Hoggard, Center for Health Equity Research    Dr. Hoggard received her doctorate in Personality & Social Contexts Psychology from the University of Michigan. Thereafter, she completed her National Science Foundation-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Hoggard is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Health Equity Research in the Department of Social Medicine. Dr. Hoggard focuses on racial discrimination as a chronic, psychosocial stressor that heightens African Americans’ risk for cardiovascular disease and depression. Specifically, she pursues three lines of research: (1) explicating the mechanisms that link racial discrimination to cardiovascular and depression risk, (2) identifying protective and vulnerability factors that mitigate or exacerbate the impact of racial discrimination, and (3) translating research on racial discrimination mechanisms and protective/vulnerability factors into behavioral interventions. Ultimately, Dr. Hoggard hopes to design and implement effective interventions that attenuate the adverse consequences of racial discrimination.

thumbnail_headshot-lazaro-munozGabriel Lazaro, Center for Genomics and Society    Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz, PhD, JD, MBE is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Genomics and Society at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and an Adjunct Instructor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. His current research, funded by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Human Genome Research Institute, examines ethical, legal, and public policy challenges generated by translational psychiatric genomics research, and the integration of psychiatric genomics knowledge and technologies into clinical care and other spheres of society. Dr. Lázaro-Muñoz obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience from New York University, his J.D. and Master of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania, and his B.A. in psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. In 2017, Dr. Lázaro-Muñoz will join the faculty of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor.


dsc_0725Catherine Marcinkiewcz, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies  
 Catherine received her B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D in Neuroscience from the University of Florida. She is now a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Thomas Kash in the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at UNC Chapel Hill using multi-level approaches to investigate the neural circuitry underlying alcohol dependence and anxiety disorders. In a recent publication in Nature, she identifies a circuit mechanism in the central amygdala that is associated with the acute anxiety-promoting effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly prescribed antidepressants. The discovery of this circuit introduces a novel means of mitigating the adverse psychiatric effects of SSRIs.


photo-sep-24%2c-18-04-28Saray Shai, Mathematics    Dr. Saray Shai received her B.Sc in Mathematics and Computer Science (double degree) from the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) before receiving her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of St Andrews, UK in 2014. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mathematics under the advisement of Dr. Peter J. Mucha. Her research at UNC has been focused on the development of mathematical and computational tools for modeling and analyzing complex systems, roughly defined as large networks of simple components with no central control that give rise to emergent complex behavior. Her work has been applied to data analysis problems arising in a variety of contexts, with her major contribution being the analysis and design of urban transportation systems.


dsc_0734Aussie Suzuki, Biology  Aussie Suzuki completed Bachelors in Pharmacology at the Kyushu University, Japan. I earned my Ph.D. in Genetics from National Institute of Genetics, Japan. Currently I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology in the laboratories of Dr. Ted Salmon and Dr. Kerry Bloom at UNC. My research at UNC, supported by Kazato research foundation, the Uehara memorial foundation, and JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science), revealed the blueprint of human kinetochore, which includes protein copy number and nm-resolution protein mapping, using quantitative and analytical light microscopy including super-resolution fluorescent microscopy we developed. In addition, to elucidate how kinetochore couples forces from microtubules and centromere stretch, we have developed FRET (fluorescent resonance energy transfer) bio-tension sensor in yeast, that allows to monitor tension at kinetochore in vivo with super-sensitivity.


aedvs_2.jpgAmanda Van Swearingen, LCCC      Dr. Van Swearingen graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2007, with her undergraduate research focused on neuroscience and cancer biochemistry. She earned her PhD in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University in 2012, while conducting research into the relationship between hormones and neurobiology underlying drug addiction and Parkinson’s Disease. She is currently a translational postdoctoral researcher in the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Under the mentorship of Dr. Carey Anders, MD, Dr. Van Swearingen investigates potential therapies for the clinically unmet need of brain metastases from triple negative breast cancer in cellular and animal models.


Past Recipients


  • Kemi Doll, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Byron Farnum, Chemistry
  • Adam Gracz, Gastroenterology and Hematology
  • Jinchuan Hu, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Amy Johnson, Nutrition
  • Lavar Munroe, Art
  • Anya Prince, Social Medicine
  • Jeremy Rotty, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Dane Taylor, Mathematics
  • Jason Yi, Pharmacology


  • Yosuf Aachoui, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Yacine Boulaftali, McAllister Heart Institute
  • Marci Cottingham, Department of Social Medicine
  • Shannon Crowley, Department of Psychiatry
  • Anne Justice, Department of Epidemiology
  • Peng Kang, Department of Chemistry
  • Anthony Lau, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Vineet Menachery, Department of Epidemiology
  • Mika Mustonen, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • William Sturkey, Department of History


  • J. Mauro Calabrese, Department of Genetics
  • Shobhan Gaddameedhi, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Matteo Giletta, Department of Psychology
  • Jennifer Kane, Carolina Population Center
  • Portia Kunz McCoy, Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Jennifer Prairie, Departments of Mathematics and Marine Sciences
  • Scott Rothbart, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Sara Trace, Department of Psychiatry/Eating Disorders Program
  • Daisuke Urano, Department of Biology
  • Aaron Vannucci, Department of Chemistry


  • Sandra Albrecht, Carolina Population Center
  • Jessica Baker, Department of Psychiatry/Eating Disorders Program
  • Vivian Gama, Department of Neuroscience Center
  • Hsien-Sung Huang, Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Mosi Ifatunji, Department of Sociology/Carolina Population Center (Carolina Postdoc for Faculty Diversity)
  • Kathryn Muessiq, School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease
  • Tadashi Nakagawa, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Dileep Varma, Department of Biology
  • Haitao Wen, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Jason Wolff, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities


  • Karla Ausderau, Allied Health Sciences
  • Silvia Bezer, Department of Chemistry
  • Karl D. Castillo, Department of Marine Sciences
  • Zuofeng Chen, Department of Chemistry
  • Tae-Yeon Eom, Neuroscience Center
  • Nuri Ozturk, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Kimberly Powers, Departments of Epidemiology and Medicine
  • Laura Widman, HIV/STD Infectious Disease Center
  • Nathalie Williams, Carolina Population Center
  • Pengcheng Xun, Department of Nutrition


  • Cendra Agulhon, Department of Pharmacology
  • Christy Avery, Department of Epidemiology
  • Janne Boone-Heinonen, Interdisciplinary Obesity Training/Carolina Population Center
  • Jacquelyn Bower, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Charles Davis, Department of Art History (Carolina Postdoc for Faculty Diversity)
  • Jun Li, Molecular Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy
  • Paul Reiter, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Courtney Thaxton, Department of Cell & Molecular Physiology
  • Yang Wang, Department of Pharmacology
  • Angela Wendel, Department of Nutrition


  • Irving Coy Allen, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Sergio Chavez, Carolina Population Center
  • Joyee Ghosh, Department of Biostatistics
  • Tae-Hong Kang, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Conggang Li, Department of Chemistry
  • Liqing Ma, Department of Chemistry
  • Aaron Neumann, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Nasser Rusan, Biology Department
  • Mindy Steiniger, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Kai Ziervogel, Department of Marine Sciences


  • Guohua Cao, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Javier Concepcion, Department of Chemistry
  • Molly De Marco, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
  • Paul Hoertz, Department of Chemistry
  • Xiaoyang Hua, Pulmonary Division of the Department of Medicine & Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology
  • Ajit Joglekar, Department of Biology
  • Alexey Savelyev, Department of Chemistry
  • Naomi Spence, Carolina Population Center
  • Jill Weimer, Neuroscience Research Center
  • Shuangye Yin, Department of Biochemistry


  • James Patrick Cronin, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Mathew Dupre, Carolina Population Center
  • Matthew Frieman, Hooker Research Center, School of Public Health
  • Hegui Gong, Department of Chemistry
  • Laura Halperin, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Heidi M. Mansour, Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy
  • Dan Marston, Department of Biology
  • Joanna Poblete-Cross, Department of History
  • Rachael Rigby, Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Leslie Sombers, Department of Chemistry


  • Zhongying Chen, Department of Biology
  • Shannon Davis, Carolina Population Center
  • Nora Franceschini, Department of Epidemiology
  • Andrea (Nackley) Neely, School of Dentistry’s Center for Neurosensory Disorders
  • Thomas Parsons, Department of Neurology
  • David Singleton, Department of ESE
  • Anthony Yannarell, Institute of Marine Sciences


  • Melanie Bishop, Institue of Marine Sciences
  • Jennifer DeLuca, Department of Biology
  • Feng Ding, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Jay Garcia, Carolina Postdoc for Faculty Diversity
  • Steven Hitlin, Carolina Population Center
  • Karen Kim, Department of Health Behavior & Health Education
  • Craig Lee, Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics
  • Kristopher Preacher, Department of Psychology
  • Eric Wagner, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics


  • J. Scott Brown, Carolina Population Center
  • David Carr, Carolina Population Center
  • Daniela Cimini, Department of Biology
  • Raymond Coakley, Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center
  • Timothy Donaldson, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Heidi Gazelle, Center for Developmental Science
  • Aiguo Hu, Department of Chemistry
  • Robert Maile, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Hengbin Wang, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Francis Willard, Department of Pharmacology