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.


2017 PARE Awards Presentation

2017 Award Recipient Bios:


 Lauren Gaydosh, PhD is a sociologist and social demographer. Her research lies at the intersection of family, inequality, and health in domestic and international settings.  She studies how childhood environments are shaped by and reinforce patterns of socioeconomic inequality, influencing health across the life course. With a particular emphasis on stressful family and socioeconomic childhood exposures as social determinants of health, her research contributes to our understanding of health disparities.


Zhe Ma, PhD completed his Bachelors of Engineering in Biochemistry Engineering at Tianjin University of Science and Technology, China in 2003, his Masters of Science in Microbiology at Nankai University, China in 2006, and his Ph.D. with Dr. Glen Barber in Cancer Biology at the University of Miami in 2013. Zhe is broadly interested in molecular mechanisms behind host innate immunity against infectious disease and cancer. He is currently working in Dr. Blossom Damania’s lab focusing on dissecting the interactions between innate immune responses and viral tumor development in the hope of identifying potential targets and strategies for viral cancer treatment.


Rajendra Mitra, PhD is a postdoctoral research associate in Dr. Zongchao Han’s research group at the Department of Ophthalmology in the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), where he specializes in gene and drug delivery for retinal diseases. Dr. Mitra earned his PhD in chemistry from the Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in India. Dr. Mitra’s current research has focused on the treatment of eye diseases and cancer. Specifically, his research involves design and development of novel biodegradable biomaterials, drug/gene delivery systems, and nanoformulations with the goal of exploring and advancing more effective therapeutic strategies for their potential translation into clinics. His current projects include nanoparticle-based gene/drug delivery systems for the treatments of diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and retinoblastoma (pediatric eye cancer).


Ciara O’Flanagan, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Stephen Hursting’s laboratory in the Department of Nutrition in the School of Public Health. She is interested in cancer cell metabolism and how diet affects systemic and cancer-specific metabolism. Her research focuses on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and pancreatic cancer, two obesity-related cancers that have poor prognoses and survivorship and for which there are no targeted therapies. Her approach seeks to evaluate the potential of nutrient and metabolic stress, alone or in combination with traditional and emerging therapies, for TNBC and pancreatic cancer prevention and treatment. A native of Ireland, she received her PhD from University College Cork in 2013, as a PhD Scholar in Cancer Biology. She joined Dr. Hursting’s lab in 2015, after a short postdoc with Professor Rosemary O’Connor in University College Cork identifying biomarkers of sensitivity and resistance to IGF-1R inhibition.


Renato Sampaio, PhD obtained his B.Sc. (2008), M.Sc. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) in Physics at the Federal University of Uberlândia, in Brazil. His research focused on the linear and non-linear excited-state response of molecules that were relevant to photodynamic therapy and optical limiting applications. In 2015, Renato joined Gerald Meyer’s laboratory as a postdoctoral research fellow in the UNC Energy Frontier Research Center, in the Department of Chemistry. His research at UNC has largely been inspired by the fundamental challenges in molecular solar energy conversion. His efforts foster a broader understanding of the photophysics and photochemistry of molecular light absorbers and catalysts both in solution and at the molecule-semiconductor interface. Specifically, he investigates the electron and energy transfer processes that are relevant to the development of dye-sensitized solar cells and heterogeneous water oxidation photocatalysis.


Past Recipients


  • 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