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Announcement of the 2020-2021 Jefferson Science Fellows

The 2020-2021 class of Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) is the 16th class of Fellows selected since the program was established in 2003 as an initiative of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. The Jefferson Science Fellows Program is designed to further build capacity for science, technology, and engineering expertise within the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The 2020-2021 Jefferson Science Fellows are:



Supriyo Bandyopadhyay
Virginia Commonwealth University

Supriyo Bandyopadhyay is Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and directs the Quantum Device Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, M.S. degree from the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and his Ph.D. from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Purdue, Assistant and Associate Professor at University of Notre Dame, Professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and now Commonwealth Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University with a courtesy appointment as Professor of Physics. Dr. Bandyopadhyay's research is in spintronics, straintronics, energy-efficient computing and nanoscale self-assembly. His self-assembly work was featured in the U.S. Army Research Office Nanoscience Poster in 1997 as one of four notable advances in nanotechnology. Prof. Bandyopadhyay was named Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist by Virginia's Governor Terence R. McAuliffe in 2016. His alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India named him a distinguished alumnus in 2016. His university bestowed upon him the Distinguished Scholarship Award (given annually to one faculty member in the university) and the University Award of Excellence (the highest honor the university can bestow on a faculty member, given to one individual in a year). His department gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award for sustained contributions to scholarship, education and service (one of two given in the department's history). His earlier employer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, conferred on him the College of Engineering Research Award (1998), the College of Engineering Service Award (2000), and the Interdisciplinary Research Award (2001). In 2018, he received the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. This is the highest award for educators in private and public universities and colleges in the State of Virginia and recognizes outstanding scholarship, teaching and service. In 2020, he received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "Pioneer in Nanotechnology" award. Prof. Bandyopadhyay has authored and co-authored over 400 research publications and presented over 150 invited talks and colloquia across four continents. He has also authored/co-authored three textbooks. He has taught in India under the GIAN program and performed collaborative research there with a VAJRA fellowship from the Government of India. Prof. Bandyopadhyay is a Fellow of IEEE, American Physical Society, Institute of Physics (UK), the Electrochemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.




Brian Gran
Case Western Reserve University

Brian Gran is a sociologist and lawyer on the faculty of the Sociology Department, Law School, and Mandel School of Applied of Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University. His scholarship concentrates on human rights, including children's rights, law, and social policy. Gran was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy at Yale University. As a Fulbright Scholar, he taught a course on children's rights to the Law School of Reykjavik University and conducted research on Iceland's Ombudsman for Children. Gran was a member of the Council and Steering Committee of the Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was one of fourteen members of the U.S. National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a group who advises on national policy around law, technology, and science. He has served as Chair of the Human Rights Section of the American Sociological Association and President of the Thematic Group on Global Justice and Human Rights of the International Sociological Association. Gran has advised the United Nations on the human right to science. His scholarship has received support of various institutions, including the British Academy, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and right now from the U.S. Department of Defense for a project on obstacles to and facilitators of recovery from spinal cord injury and from the U.S. National Science Foundation for a project on derogation of human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gran has published books as well as articles in various sociology, law, and policy journals. Forthcoming with Polity Press is the book, The Sociology of Children's Rights.




Vincent Harris
Northeastern University

Vincent Harris has had a distinguished career as an engineer, scientist, inventor, educator, and entrepreneur for almost 30 years. He presently holds positions of University Distinguished Professor and William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor at Northeastern University (NEU). Prior to holding these positions, he was a member of the technical staff, Head of the Complex Materials Section, and Head of the Materials Physics Branch at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. His professional preparation includes the Ph.D. (EE, NEU), M.Sc. (MSE, NEU), M.Sc. (Eng. Mgt., U. Md.), M.Eng. (Exec. Tech. Mgt., U. Penn, Wharton), and B.Sc. (ME, NEU) degrees. His research interests encompass a wide range of functional materials and their applications in devices and systems used principally as sensors, radar and communication platforms, nanotechnology, power electronics, and medical diagnostics and therapeutics. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed science and engineering articles, including book chapters, review articles, and technical feature articles that have been cited more than 14,500 times. Additionally, he holds 20 or more patents or patent applications. Harris has been recognized with national and international awards for scholarship including: the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, Distinguished Scientist Award; the Lee Hsun Research Award and Lectureship for Seminal Contributions to Materials Science by the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Distinguished Visiting Professorships at the Institute of Microelectronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; University of Electronic Science and Technology of China; Huazhong University of Science and Technology; and, the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka where he served as a Fulbright Fellow. As well as Visiting Professorships at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Harris has been elevated to Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, American Physical Society, among other prestigious societies. He routinely serves as an expert to Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Energy, DARPA, the DOD tri-services, National Science Foundation, NAS/NAE, NASA, and other government agencies on topics of critical materials, nanotechnology, quantum science and engineering, RF technologies, and effective translation of federal investments in R&D to the private sector. Vincent Harris is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.




Warren Jasper
North Carolina State University

Warren J. Jasper, PhD, PE is a Professor in the Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science Department at North Carolina State University where he has been since 1991. He received his BS and MS degrees from MIT and his PhD from Stanford University in Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research interests include real-time measurement and control of textile processes (fabric manufacturing and dyeing), electro-static filtration (electrets), cold plasma textile filters, and wireless power transfer. He has authored or co-authored over 70 peer reviewed publications, and has written over 50 Linux device drivers for data acquisition boards. He currently maintains the largest single author repository of open source drivers on the internet located at He currently teaches courses in automatic control, analog and digital circuits, and fabric formation (knitting, weaving, and non-wovens). In 2010, he received the Gertrude Cox Award for innovative excellence in teaching and learning with technology and was a recipient of a Fulbright award in 2014 and again in 2019. He was inducted into the Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement at North Carolina State University in 2019.




Robert E. Johnson
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Johnson received his B.S. degree from SUNY at Buffalo, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Caltech. Dr. Johnson served as Dean of The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte from 2000 until June 2020. College enrollment grew from 1400 to nearly 4000 students, faculty from 90 to 173, staff from 12 to 68, and research funding from $3.6M to $16.5M. Dr. Johnson worked extensively with corporate stakeholders, faculty, and staff to develop the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) to advance research in energy and to prepare the energy workforce. During his tenure, the college added eight new degree programs and four new facilities including Duke Centennial Hall, the Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory, EPIC, and the Motorsport Research Building. Dean Johnson established programs to enhance the student experience including the Engineering Leadership Academy and the Industrial Solutions Laboratory. Before coming to Charlotte, he worked for 16 years in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Illinois. Research focused on fluid mechanics, material processing, race car aerodynamics, and asymptotic methods. He is the author or coauthor on more that 70 archival journal articles and has worked on numerous projects for the National Science Foundation, Alcoa, and Caterpillar.




John LoSecco
University of Notre Dame

John LoSecco is a Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. His research is in the field of elementary particle physics. He received a BS degree in physics from Cooper Union in New York and an AM and PhD degrees from Harvard University. After a postdoc at Harvard University, he held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and Caltech before joining the Notre Dame physics department. He has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses including a popular course on elementary cosmology for non-science majors, which covered Black Holes, Schrodinger's Cat and the Big Bang. His research has been in the areas of neutrino physics, grand unified theories, astrophysics, exotic mesons, CP violation, heavy flavor physics and neutrino oscillations. He helped found the field of astro-particle physics. He is a corecipient of the Bruno Rossi prize in High Energy Astrophysics of the AAS for observation of a six second neutrino burst from a supernova in the Large Magelanic Cloud galaxy and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (UK). He was a Fulbright Scholar at Paris VII and Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA) Saclay in 2012-2013.




Timothy Masterlark
South Dakota Mines

Timothy Masterlark is a Professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at South Dakota Mines, where he specializes in Geophysics and Numerical Methods. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, after which he accepted an appointment to the USGS National Center for EROS and went on to accept a faculty position at The University of Alabama. His research team develops numerical simulations of magma migration, earthquakes, tsunami genesis, and geothermal systems. These simulations use satellite, field, and laboratory measurements to unravel the rich complexity of processes and structures beneath the Earth's surface. He authored more than 160 publications and was the Principal Investigator for numerous research grants from NASA, NSF, and USGS. He served as Associate Editor for Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. He serves on the advisory team for NASA's Earth Surface and Interior program and regularly serves on review panels for U.S. and foreign scientific agencies. Dr. Masterlark is the Honorary Commander for the Munitions Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing, USAF. Prior to his academic career, he served as a paratrooper in the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division - America's Guard of Honor.




Joshua U. Otaigbe
University of Southern Mississippi

Joshua Otaigbe has had a circuitous career that spans three continents and has had great impact on education and research as well as on industrial practice. He specializes in polymer engineering and materials science and is currently a full professor in University of Southern Mississippi and Principal Partner of Flaney Associates LLC. He has enjoyed highly successful careers in industry and academia and has held numerous senior level appointments including Senior Project Leader and Engineer at Corning Incorporated and the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Professor in Engineering in France for 2013-2014. The latter award is an appointment reserved for eminent scholars with substantial experience and publications in their respective fields. From 2003-2012, he was awarded invited visiting professorships in the Swiss Federal Institute of technology (ETH-Zurich) and the French Engineering Universities, Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) in Lyon, France. Otaigbe earned his PhD in polymer science and engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology in England in 1984. He joined The University of Southern Mississippi in 2002 as a professor of polymer engineering and science following a successful career at Iowa State University and elsewhere. At Iowa State University, Otaigbe became a tenured Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and of Materials Science & Engineering, and Leader of Polymers and Composite Research Group. Otaigbe has won a number of awards, including the Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining in the United Kingdom, Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, and the prestigious U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He was listed as an honored member in Who's Who of American Inventors (1998-1999 edition). Otaigbe holds seven U.S. patents and has published more than 150 refereed archival scientific journal papers.




Edmund Prater
University of Texas at Arlington

Edmund Prater is a Professor of Global Supply Chain Operations at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). He oversees the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) as Executive Director. The VBOC is funded by a $1.8M grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. It supports veterans in starting businesses and teaches entrepreneurship to active duty military personnel on all military bases in north Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Dr. Prater came to academics later in life. He received his B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Electrical Engineering before entering industry. At BellSouth (now AT&T), he oversaw technology forecasting and Artificial Intelligence development and received the corporation's top award for innovation. When communism fell in Russia, he co-founded an import/export firm with offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow. He ran this for close to four years before returning to Georgia Tech and receiving an M.S. in Industrial Engineering and a Ph.D. in Operations Management. As an academic, he has published 44 peer-reviewed papers, 6 book chapters, and a textbook. He has also taught at universities in Asia and Europe for the past 20 years.




Robert B. Richardson
Michigan State University

Robert Richardson is Professor of Sustainable Development in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. He holds a BS in management from Tulane University, a MBA in finance from New York University, and a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from Colorado State University. Professor Richardson's research focuses on the study of the environment and development, particularly the contribution of ecosystem services to socioeconomic wellbeing. He uses a variety of methods from the behavioral and social sciences to study decisionmaking about the use of natural resources and the values of ecosystem services. He has conducted research related to agricultural-environmental linkages, household food and energy security, and tradeoffs in decision-making about environmental management in southern and eastern Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, as well as throughout the USA. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Professor Richardson is President of the United States Society for Ecological Economics, and a member of the International Society of Ecological Economics.




Surajit Sen
State University of New York at Buffalo

Surajit Sen holds a B.Sc (Hons) from Presidency College, Calcutta and a PhD from The University of Georgia. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and Michigan State University before joining the physics faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he has been a full professor since 2006. His research is on nonequilibrium processes and nonlinear dynamical systems as realized in nature and in social contexts. These works include studies on interactions between solitary waves, the likely existence of a new equilibrium-like state with large scale fluctuations, impulse acoustics based imaging of buried landmines, impact mitigation and sound dampening using granular metamaterials and studies of battle strategy and primate societies. He is deeply interested in raising awareness about science and math in children and youth from the underserved communities. His work has appeared in some 160 refereed journal articles and discussed in about as many invited lectures in conferences, academic institutions, and government labs in the US and around the world. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and has been a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow at the Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology in 2017-2018. Dr. Sen is an editor of the journal Granular Matter and an editorial board member of journals Modern Physics Letters B and International Journal of Modern Physics B. His university service includes chairing the promotion and tenure process in arts and sciences at Buffalo, being involved in human rights of scientists through the APS and in structuring bi-national science collaboration programs between individual academics. He is a past two-term president of the American Chapter of the Indian Physics Association and a former member of the executive committee of the Forum on International Physics of the APS.




Erich Sommerfeldt
University of Maryland

Erich Sommerfeldt is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at The University of Maryland. His research has focused on civil society and development communication, public diplomacy, activism, social capital, and social network analysis. He has participated in applied civil society research projects in dozens of developing nations around the world. Sommerfeldt has consulted extensively on research and evaluation methods for the U.S. Department of State and USAID. He has lectured on evaluation methods in military public affairs to the Department of Defense Information School (DINFOS), the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Reserve, and NATO. He was a visiting professor at the BI Norwegian Business School in 2018. He is a two-time winner of the Best Article of the Year Award from the Public Relations Division of the National Communication Association, and his doctoral dissertation, based on field research conducted in Peru, was given the 2010-2011 Grunig Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Public Relations Division of the International Communication Association. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.




Scott Wicker
Kentucky State University

Dr. Scott A. Wicker is Interim Chair of the School of Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (SoSTEM) and Associate Professor of Chemistry, where he is responsible for advancing the mission, vision, and core values of Kentucky State University. A native of Zachary, Louisiana, Dr. Wicker earned honors distinction with his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from Grambling State University and a doctorate in Environmental Toxicology from Southern University and A & M College. Dr. Wicker has more than seven years of Historically Black College and University (HBCUs) Higher Education experience, where he held post-doctoral research associate and faculty positions. During his higher education tenure, he served as a PI, Co-PI, or Senior Investigator for six funded grants worth over five million dollars; Chaired, Co-Chaired, or participated as a committee member for eighteen different university committees; published nine peer-reviewed articles and one book chapter; presented over twenty oral research, posters, panelist, guest speakers at conferences and symposiums; chaired or committee member of seven undergraduate Honor Theses, one Master Thesis, and one Doctoral Dissertation; earned seven awards or honors including Outstanding Service Award, Faculty Academy of Master Educators (FAMERs), Jefferson Science Fellow, and Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting Alumni. Dr. Wicker is an Inorganic chemist specializing in the kinetics of green chemical methods for synthesizing metal oxides used in energy storage and sensor devices. He holds professional memberships in the American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Kentucky Chapter of American Physiological Society, Kentucky Academy of Science, National Scientific Honor Society Beta Kappa Chi (BKX), and National Institute of Science (NIS).




Christopher Woolverton
Kent State University

Christopher J. Woolverton is Professor of Epidemiology, Dean's Fellow to the University Health Services, and Chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, at Kent State University. He additionally serves on the faculty of the NIH National Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Program, and on the graduate faculty of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Woolverton earned the M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology from West Virginia University's School of Medicine. He also has advanced training in laboratory containment practices, biological safety, international biosecurity, pandemic planning, control of biohazards, and biosecurity policy analysis. Woolverton's research is focused on the detection and control of infectious agents. He has published on the development of a liquid crystal biosensor, for the real-time identification of bacteria and virus; the identification of microbial proteins, whose biological function is driven by their liquid crystalline properties; the use of electron beam energy for the control of Bacillus spores; the use of nonthermal plasma for the control of bacterial biofilms; the use of medium-chain fatty acids to control Clostridium spores; the use of Twitter and survey data to detect undergraduate student perceived risk of Ebola and SARS-CoV-2, respectively; and the use of human fibrin as a long-term, antibiotic delivery system. Woolverton also co-authored four editions of the undergraduate microbiology textbook, Prescott’s Microbiology (editions 7-10) and on the use of the NIH Designated Training Facility (BSL-3 Sim Lab) to document learning behaviors in high stress environments.