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Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards

Powe Awards help ORAU member institutions retain their best young faculty members

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).

Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards
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.

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 projects must fall within one of these five disciplines:

  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics/Computer Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy, Management, or Education

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

2019-20 Powe Award winners

Award Recipient Member Institution
Mridul Aanjaneya Rutgers University
Fadi Abdeljawad Clemson University
Irfan Ahmed Virginia Commonwealth University
Mustafa Aksoy University at Albany
Netz Arroyo Johns Hopkins University
Rana Ashkar Virginia Tech
Adam Aurisano University of Cincinnati
Leilani Battle University of Maryland
April Becker University of North Texas
Muyinatu Bell Johns Hopkins University
Suzanne Birner Berea College
Jennifer Bridwell-Rabb University of Michigan
Shiwang Cheng Michigan State University
Xiangyang Dong Missouri University of Science and Technology
Erica Edwards Wayne State University
Tanvir Faisal University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Yunlong Feng University at Albany
Xiaodan Gu University of Southern Mississippi
Yujie Hu University of South Florida
Jyoti Katoch Carnegie Mellon University
Yong Lin Kong University of Utah
Joel Lewis George Washington University
Chengyu Li Villanova University
Fangqiong Ling Washington University in St. Louis
James McKone University of Pittsburgh
Jaewon Oh Appalachian State University
Ashley Pagnotta College of Charleston
Mikail Rubinov Vanderbilt University
Brett Savoie Purdue University
Stanley Snelson Florida Institute of Technology
Thomas Theis North Carolina State University
Tuo Wang Louisiana State University
Shuo Wang West Virginia University
Tiffany Weinkopff University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Ruijie Zeng Utah State University
Hanyu Zhu Rice University
  • powe-birner.jpg

    Powe awardee researches rocks that formed Earth’s continents billions of years ago

    Suzanne Birner, an assistant professor of geology and earth science at Berea College, is one of 36 junior faculty members from ORAU member institutions to receive the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. She analyzes rocks from the Earth’s upper mantle once they are exposed along tectonic plate boundaries. With careful analyses, she hopes to learn more about volcanic eruptions, particularly those that formed the Earth’s continents billions of years ago.

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  • Qingguo Xu, DPhil, a 2018 winner of the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

    Powe Award winner researches efficient drug delivery using nanomedicine

    Qingguo Xu, DPhil, a 2018 winner of the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, is using his award to research better methods for drug delivery in the treatment of eye disorders, cancer and other diseases. In collaboration with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Xu is applying the neutron scattering technique SANS (small-angle neutron scattering) to study the structural change of sclera resulting from the presence or absence of drugs and nanomedicines.

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  • laurent-bellaiche-1.jpg

    Where are they now? Powe Award winner Laurent Bellaiche

    Laurent Bellaiche, Ph.D., who now serves as a Distinguished Professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, has followed a stellar career path since he was a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner in 1999. Using the funds received from the Powe Award, Bellaiche conducted research on electronic and optical properties of alloys made of semiconductors. The award funding facilitated the investigation of the effect of alloying in varying and optimizing physical properties.

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Contact us

For more information about the Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, contact the University Partnerships office at 865.576.6513 or