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Early Career Researchers Honored for Excellence in Research

Three exceptional researchers have been honored with the Dean’s Early Career Research Excellence Awards. These awards recognize outstanding contributions and accomplishments by early-career scholars in their respective fields. The recipients of this year’s awards are Jenna Adams, PhD, Stephanie Hachey, PhD, and Carla Vázquez-González, PhD.

Jenna Adams, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying memory decline in aging and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Through her research, Adams investigates the pathological processes that lead to memory impairment and aims to develop strategies to prevent and treat memory decline. Her expertise lies in utilizing multimodal neuroimaging methodologies to study the functional and structural alterations in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s pathology. Adams’ work, supported by a National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral National Research Service Award, has resulted in several significant publications, shedding light on the early changes in the medial temporal lobe memory system.

Stephanie Hachey, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is dedicated to advancing personalized medicine in the fight against solid cancers. Her research delves into the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and aims to develop targeted treatments that enhance anti-tumor immunity. Hachey has spearheaded numerous collaborations, including collecting fresh tumor tissue for study, and is currently leading a U.S. Department of Defense-funded project to develop a therapeutic platform for non-small cell lung cancer. As the founder of ImmunoTarget Therapeutics, Inc., she is also working toward the development of novel immunotherapies for patients with thoracic cancers.

Carla Vázquez-González, a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow and assistant specialist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has made significant strides in the field of plant evolutionary ecology. Her research focuses on understanding the complex interactions between plants, insect herbivores and herbivore natural enemies. Vázquez-González has conducted extensive studies investigating the genetic and environmental factors that influence plant defenses and resistance to herbivores in different study systems, including woody and non-woody plant species. Her work, which has been published in top journals and recognized internationally, aims to provide insights into the broader multi-trophic ecological perspective of plant-herbivore interactions across ecosystems.

The achievements of these three outstanding researchers highlight their dedication and commitment to advancing knowledge in their respective fields. Their groundbreaking work has the potential to make a significant impact on the understanding of memory decline in neurodegenerative diseases, cancer research and plant ecology. As recipients of the Dean’s Early Career Research Excellence Awards, Jenna Adams, Stephanie Hachey and Carla Vázquez-González have demonstrated exceptional talent and leadership, and are poised to shape the future of their respective fields and contribute to scientific advancements that benefit society as a whole.

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