Jane Grande-Allen, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering (BioE), and Christopher M. Jermaine, associate professor of computer science (CS), have been selected to receive the 2016 Teaching and Research Excellence Awards from the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University.
Each will receive a $10,000 award, with half the sum going directly to the faculty member and half deposited in a fund of the winner’s choice for use in “enhancing teaching and research.” The awards were first given in 2015.
Grande-Allen earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Washington in 1998, joined the Rice faculty in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2013. She is director of the Integrative Matrix Mechanics Lab, where her research focuses on heart valve disease and the extracellular matrix (ECM) that makes up cardiac tissue.
Grande-Allen’s studies of heart-valve tissue revealed that the ECM—collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans—forms an intricate network of connective tissue influenced by valvular function, growth, and abnormalities. By identifying how structural defects occur, she hopes to develop alternatives to conventional open-heart surgery for repairing and replacing diseased heart valves. These would include drug therapies and engineered heart valves.
In her letter nominating Grande-Allen for the award, Rebekah A. Drezek, professor of BioE at Rice, lauds her research:
“By fusing technologies from genetic engineering, 3-D tissue culture and micro/nanofabrication approaches, her work is leading to the development of novel biomaterials and tissue-engineered materials for heart-valve replacements and disease models. She has authored six book chapters and has more than 100 peer-reviewed articles either published or currently under review. She has an h-index of 30, according to Google Scholar Citations, and has been cited over 2,100 times in the last five years.”
Daniel Puperi, a fifth-year doctoral student in BioE, took two graduate-level courses with Grande-Allen and served as one of her teaching assistants. In his nominating letter he described Grande-Allen’s approaching to teaching:
“While her classes receive universal praise, mentoring students outside the classroom is where Dr. Grande-Allen has risen above the rest. She has mentored every level student allowed in the lab, from high-school students, to undergraduates, master’s students, Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows. She also mentors students through sponsoring undergraduate design teams, being heavily involved in the master’s program in bioengineering, and simply being accessible and available for general advice.”
Jermaine earned his Ph.D. in CS from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2002 and taught CS at the University of Florida until 2009, when he joined the Rice faculty.
Jermaine’s research focuses on ways to manage and analyze archived data. Much of the work is statistical in nature, with an emphasis on Bayesian analysis, and also systems-oriented, building systems software that can be used to manage and analyze large, statistical data sets. Some of his research is devoted to analyzing specific data sets, and could be described as data mining or applied machine learning.
Jermaine received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004 and has received several NSF grants. He and Swarat Chaudhuri, associate professor of CS at Rice, recently won a Google Research Award to pursue work on computer-assisted programming aimed at analyzing large volumes of open-source code. Chaudhuri wrote in his nominating letter:
“In Chris, I see an embodiment of the perfect scholar. He has deep expertise in his areas of databases and data mining. But in addition, he possesses an extraordinary intellectual curiosity. Many less adventurous researchers would stick to ideas and applications that they know well, but not Chris. Working with him has been a delight and a privilege, and I look forward to continuous, close collaboration with him in the years to come.”
One of Jermaine’s students, Risa Myers, a sixth-year doctoral candidate in CS, said of him: “Chris may look like a surfer dude and his speech may be peppered with phrases including ‘gonna’ and ‘not cool,’ but he is, first and foremost, an incredible role model.”