CALS faculty among Provost Research Innovation Award winners


Innovative research with great impact is one of Cornell’s hallmarks, and to recognize some of the best examples of that work, the Office of the Provost has established an annual award that highlights the depth and breadth of the university’s research efforts.

The inaugural Provost Research Innovation Awards recognize midcareer faculty from engineering, the humanities, life sciences, social sciences and physical sciences.

CALS professor of molecular biology and genetics Ailong Ke was awarded for his research on structural aspects of RNA function. Ke’s research focuses on CRISPR interference, an RNA-guided defense mechanism in bacteria and prokaryotic microorganisms. Ke’s work has been published in Nature, Science and Cell.

“The list of candidates for these inaugural awards was extremely impressive, which made the task of selecting the first winners a real challenge,” said Emmanuel Giannelis, vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy.

“Groundbreaking, impactful, collaborative research is Cornell’s trademark,” said Giannelis, the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering, “and recognizing leaders in this area is important as we expand our research efforts in the future.”

Criteria for award consideration include: leadership in a field; publications in high-impact journals; published books; external funding/awards; entrepreneurial activities; corporate research partnerships; mentoring of future researchers; and NGO and public/private partnerships.

Other award winners were Aleksandr Mergold ’00, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, Alex Hayes, associate professor of astronomy, Natalie Mahowald, the Irving Porter Church Professor in Engineering, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior.

Every department can nominate one faculty member for the award, which carries a cash prize of $5,000.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.