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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 $1,200 along with a plaque.


2020 PARE Award Recipients

Portrait of Kathryn GunnKATHRYN GUNN, PhD — Kathryn Gunn is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Saskia Neherʼs lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UNC. Dr. Gunn earned her PhD in Biological Sciences at Northwestern University where she used single-molecule techniques to better understand proteins that untangle twisted DNA. Her current research is aimed at uncovering mechanistic and structural information on lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme which removes fat from the blood, and its inhibitors. Dr. Gunn is funded by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship and plans to continue using biochemistry and biophysics to understand proteins crucial for metabolism.

Portrait of Kerrel MurrayKERREL MURRAY, J.D. — Kerrel Murray is a Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. His teaching and research interests include constitutional law, the law of democracy, race and law, local government law and administrative law. Before joining UNC, Murray served as a Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., where he focused on appellate work and judicial policy. Before that, he served as a litigation associate at Covington & Burling LLP, where he worked on complex civil litigation, including a major pro bono case challenging the city of Milwaukeeʼs stop and frisk practices. He has also served as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Murray received his B.A. from the University of Georgia in 2011 and his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2014. His student note, published in the Stanford Law Review, received a 2015 Burton Distinguished Legal Writing Award and was a 2013 Runner-Up in the American Constitution Societyʼs Constance Baker Motley National Student Writing Competition.

Portrait of Liujiang SongLIUJIANG SONG, PhD — Liujiang Song, PhD, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Gene Therapy Center and the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Songʼs current work focuses on Adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)-mediated gene therapy for the treatment of anterior eye diseases. Her postdoctoral work at UNC so far has resulted in more than ten peer-reviewed publications (3 of which are featured on the journal covers of Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy and Human Gene Therapy). She has received several awards and obtained independent external funding for her research on fighting corneal blindness through the Pfizer-North Carolina Biotechnology Center as a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Gene Therapy. In particular, her recent AAV-IDUA toxicity study added critical data required for the initiation of a Phase I clinical trial for the AAV-mediated gene therapy of corneal blindness of Mucopolysaccharidosis type I.

DESHIRA WALLACE, PhD — Deshira Wallace earned her Ph.D. in Health Behavior from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Deshira Wallace is a second-year Postdoctoral Fellow under the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity in the Department of Health Behavior and affiliated with the Carolina Population Center. Her research is focused on examining the effects of structural and psychosocial stressors on type 2 diabetes prevention and management in US Latinos and in Latin America. During her Postdoctoral Fellowship, Deshira will continue this line of work with an emphasis on Latinos and Latin Americans of African descent in an aim to further unpack disparities within the Latino population.

Portrait of Margeaux WetendorfMARGEAUX WETENDORF, PhD — Dr. Wetendorf is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Kathleen Caron in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology. Her current research focuses on the molecular factors that coordinate the beginning of pregnancy and the development of a healthy placenta. She aims to understand how environmental effectors such as plasticizers and phytoestrogens as well as tobacco products including e-cigarettes can regulate embryo attachment, placental development, and the progression of pregnancy. Results from her work can improve our understanding of pregnancy and assisted reproductive technologies in order to help women that experience difficulty during early pregnancy.

Past Recipients


  • 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