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Panoramic photo of South Building on UNCʼs campus, Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill

Each year, the Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence (PARE) 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 $1,200 along with a plaque.

How to Apply

2021 PARE Award Recipients

Portrait of Li KeLI KE — Li Ke is a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Education at UNC. His research centers around promoting meaningful science learning for all learners, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In particular, he is interested in how teachers can support students in engaging in scientific practices such as scientific modeling in ways that are meaningful to the discipline of science and students’ everyday lives. Li Ke is a co-principal investigator on a $1.9 million National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at developing instructional materials using scientific modeling to teach about viral pandemics. He leads development of research instruments around modeling and coordinates efforts to ensure that the developed instructional materials are supportive of and responsive to emerging multilingual learners.

Portrait of Rebecca KrupenevichREBECCA KRUPENEVICH — Rebecca Krupenevich is a postdoctoral fellow in the UNC Applied Biomechanics Lab in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Krupenevich earned her PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Maryland where she investigated age-related differences in walking biomechanics. Her current research focuses on how changes in foot musculoskeletal structure and function contribute to impaired mobility in older adults. Her research will increase our understanding of neuromechanical mechanisms underlying age-related mobility impairment to support improving the health and welfare of our aging population. Krupenevich is funded by a National Research Service Award (NRSA F32) from the National Institute on Aging.

Portrait of Zhenyi NiZHENYI NI — Zhenyi Ni is a postdoctoral researcher in Louis D. Rubin Jr. Distinguished Professor Jinsong Huang’s group at the department of Applied Physical Sciences at UNC. Ni earned his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University. His current search focuses exploring highly efficient and long-term stable metal halide perovskite solar cells for the harness of solar energy to make the renewable energy much cheaper and reduce electric bills for the whole world, from understanding the fundamental material and device physics which correlates the merits of solar cells with material properties. Results from his research will push the solar energy conversion efficiency of perovskite solar cells to its limit and make the renewable solar energy affordable for everyone.

Portrait of Kai WangKAI WANG — Kai Wang is a postdoctoral research associate in Zongchao Han’s Lab at the Department of Ophthalmology. His current research focuses on biomaterials facilitated gene and cell therapy of ophthalmic diseases, including age-related diseases, pediatric cancers, and inherited diseases. His research allows for the treatment of these diseases previously perceived as untreatable. The research outcome has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature Cancer, Advanced Functional Materials, ACS Nano, Journal of Controlled Release, etc. Wang also obtains Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Gene Therapy from NCbiotech-Pfizer and other awards. His research in immune cell therapy of retinoblastoma is going to clinical trial, and non-immunogenic gene therapy viral vectors are becoming intellectual properties at UNC.

Portrait of Jessica C. YoungJESSICA C. YOUNG — Jessica C. Young is a pharmacoepidemiologist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Her overarching goal is to develop methods for leveraging observational data to conduct timely research improving public health. Young earned her PhD in Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where she used linked electronic medical records and insurance claims data to examine opioid prescribing for post-surgical pain and the risk of prolonged postoperative opioid use. She is currently funded by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, and her work focuses on developing methods to combat challenges inherent in using large data, increasing the capability for large health systems to evolve their practice using evidence-based research, ultimately delivering higher-quality care to their patients. Prior to coming to UNC, Jessica worked as a Policy Analyst at a non-profit public policy firm and received a B.A. in Mathematics from Emory University.

Past Recipients


  • Kathryn Gunn, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Kerrel Murray, School of Law
  • Liujiang Song, Gene Therapy Center & Ophthalmology
  • Deshira Wallace, Health Behavior
  • Margeaux Wetendorf, Cell Biology and Physiology


  • Karen Boschen, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
  • Tao Che, Pharmacology
  • Lauren Hill, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
  • Chantel Martin, Epidemiology
  • Yu Mi, Pharmacy
  • Lisa Spees, LCCC
  • Aaron Teator, Chemistry
  • Yanyan Yang, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Xiao Yang, Geological Sciences
  • Yue Zhang, Environmental Sciences & Engineering


  • Hongwei Du, LCCC
  • Kathryn Harper, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
  • Laura Raffield, Genetics
  • Wentao Li, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Michael Sidorov, Cell Biology and Physiology
  • Cassandra Spracklen, Genetics
  • Marie Stoner, Carolina Population Center
  • Ludovic Troian-Gautier, Chemistry
  • Song Zhang, LCCC
  • Yang Zhou, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


  • Lauren Gaydosh, Sociology
  • Zhe Ma, LCCC
  • Rajendra Mitra, Ophthalmogoly
  • Ciara O’Flanagan, Nutrition
  • Renato Sampaio, UNC Energy Frontier Research Center


  • Aadra Bhatt, Chemistry
  • Sarah Davies, Marine Sciences
  • Dan Dickenson, Biology
  • Tory Eiselohr-Moul, Psychiatry
  • Lori Hoggard, Center for Health Equity Research
  • Gabriel Lazaro, Center for Genomics and Society
  • Catherine Marcinkiewcz, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
  • Saray Shai, Mathematics
  • Aussie Suzuki, Biology
  • Amanda Van Swearingen, LCCC


  • 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 Muessig, 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