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Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards

Our commitment to enriching the research skills and professional growth of young faculty members at ORAU member institutions is embodied in the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards Program. These competitive research awards provide seed money for junior faculty members that often result in additional funding from other sources. The award amount provided by ORAU is $5,000. The applicant’s institution is required to match the award with at least an additional $5,000. This is a one-year grant (June 1 to May 31).

Eligibility for the Powe Awards is open to full-time assistant professors at ORAU member institutions within two years of their tenure track appointment at the time of application. If there is a question about eligibility, your ORAU Councilor makes the final determination. Only two nominations are allowed per institution.

Research must fall within one of these seven disciplines:

  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics/Computer Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy, Management, or Education
  • *NEW* Augmented Reality in the Workplace
  • *NEW* Supply Chain Innovation

New Discipline Areas: As a result of ORAU’s partnership with The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (The AREA) and General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), two new research disciplines have been added to the list from which candidates may select:

The AREA: Augmented Reality in the Workplace 
The AREA seeks to promote research that brings greater attention to the use of AR in enterprise environments and supports aspiring future leaders in the field of enterprise AR. One (1) award will be made in this research area. The following represents preferred research focus areas:

  • Design, development, and use of displays for AR experience delivery.
  • Development of business and technical standards to address interoperability between AR components or to accelerate AR integration with IT systems.
  • Design, development, and/or evaluation of methods to ensure privacy, security and safety of AR systems and their users.
  • Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with AR solutions to enhance workplace productivity and safety.
  • Assessment/comparison of AR-assisted procedures to those enterprise operations without AR in order to understand drivers and barriers to adoption in a particular industry.

GDIT: Supply Chain Innovation
GDIT is interested in promoting multi-disciplinary research that focuses on developing innovative supply chain solutions. One (1) award will be made in this research area. The following examples are representative of preferred research topics:

  • How can emerging technology innovations in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, and IoT be used to create supply chain improvements? 
  • From a policy perspective, how do you address the ethics implications of sharing data across an integrated supply chain system?
  • Examining the impact of medical supply chain improvements on health and health care disparities. 
  • How can Big Data be used to increase supply chain efficiencies and effectiveness?

Junior faculty members interested in applying should consult their ORAU Councilor, and visit the frequently asked questions.

The application period closed on January 8, 2024.

Impact Areas

Interested in being a reviewer for this year’s Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards process? Complete this brief contact form, including your specific area of expertise, and someone will be in contact with you.

Interested in being a Powe reviewer graphic

FY2023 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award Winners

Member Institution Award Recipient
Arizona State University Soyoung Seo
Berea College Rashmi Shrestha
Duke University Yuansi Chen
Duke University Pardis Emami-Naeini
East Tennessee State University Amanda Frasier
Florida International University Anna Simonsen
George Mason University Quentin Sanders
Georgia Institute of Technology Noura Howell
Georgia Institute of Technology Cristina Riso
Idaho State University Leslie Nickerson
Illinois Institute of Technology Ren Wang
Johns Hopkins University Thi Vo
Lehigh University Shan Li
Michigan State University Seokhyoung Kim
Portland State University Will Pazner
University of Alabama at Birmingham Fei Xue
University of Cincinnati Chen Gao
University of Delaware Alexandra Bayles
University of Florida Janani Sampath
University of Kentucky Xingsheng Sun
University of Louisville  Yash Chitalia
University of Maryland You Zhou
University of Notre Dame Xiaolong Liu
University of Oklahoma Daniel Becker
University of Southern Mississippi Tristan Clemons
University of Texas at San Antonio Richard Anantua
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Manohar Chakrabarti
University of Utah  Connor Bischak
University of Utah  Tianli Feng
University of Virginia Natasha Sheybani
University of Wisconsin - Madison Hantang Qin
Vanderbilt University David Hyde
Virginia Tech Linbo Shao
Wake Forest University Stephen Winter
Washington University in St. Louis Jennifer Wang

Powe Award recipient: Alexander Bataller, Ph.D.

Alexander Bataller, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at North Carolina State University, credits the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award he received in 2020 with enabling him to advance his research in the use of molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications. In the event of an accident, a molten salt reactor can better maintain the integrity of the nuclear fuel. However, the corrosive nature of salt has presented a challenge in the development of these reactors.

Using the $5,000 ORAU grant, which was matched by his university, Bataller built a custom optical furnace as part of his team’s research into molten salt reactors. With the new optical furnace, Bataller and his team can utilize ultrafast laser and emission spectroscopy to develop new experimental capabilities for studying molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications.

Alexander Bataller, 2020 ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner studies the use of molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications

Powe Award recipient: Daniel Becker, Ph.D.

Daniel Becker, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, received a Powe Award in 2023 for his continued research on bat migration in western Oklahoma. Becker is studying migratory Mexican free-tailed bats and the pathogens they might carry that are possible threats to human or wildlife health.

“There is a lot of an interest right now in what bats are doing and how wildlife health impacts human health,” Becker said. “It’s really great to have this kind of work recognized by a competitive pool and know that your research trajectory is going on a good path.

Migratory Mexican free-tailed bat

Contact us

For more information about the Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, contact the University Partnerships office at (865) 576-6513 or