2013 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Awards Recipients

View the 2013 O'Donnell Awards Tribute Video.

View the 2013 O'Donnell Awards Video Trailer.

Medicine - Lora V. Hooper, Ph.D.

Dr. Lora HooperDr. Lora Hooper is associate professor of immunology and microbiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) in Dallas and in its Cancer Immunobiology Center. Dr. Hooper, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern, is a Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A. Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell.

Dr. Hooper received her doctorate in molecular cell biology and biochemistry from Washington University for work on the biochemistry of N-linked carbohydrate biosynthesis. She continued her post-doctoral training at Washington University but switched her focus to understanding the resident bacteria of the intestine and its influence on the biology of humans and other mammals. During this time she made several key discoveries about how symbiotic intestinal bacteria influence immunity and metabolism in their mammalian hosts.

In 2003, Dr. Hooper joined the faculty at UT Southwestern where her research team continues to focus on dissecting the complex interactions that occur between resident gut bacteria and the immune system. A central goal of this research is to identify and characterize novel proteins that function to limit invasion of resident bacteria into intestinal tissues. Such efforts will be essential for understanding how the immune system maintains mutually beneficial relationships with intestinal bacteria and for determining what goes wrong in human inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease.

Dr. Hooper is an editorial board member of the journal Science and has served on several grant review panels at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and the National Institutes of Health. In 2007, she received a Burroughs Wellcome Foundation New Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases Award.

Engineering - Li Shi, Ph.D.

Dr. Li ShiDr. Li Shi is a professor and the Myron L. Begeman Fellow in Enginnering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). He had early interests in physics and bridges before majoring in thermal engineering during his undergraduate study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. He spent close to a decade in combustion research, which resulted in a bachelor's degree in 1991, a master of science degree from Arizona State University in 1997, and four years of industrial research experience in between. During his doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley, he designed and fabricated micro-bridges for investigating thermal physics in individual nanostructures. This work resulted in the first experimental observation of the superior thermal conductivity of individual carbon nanotubes and also allowed him to pursue his early interests in physics and bridges. After receiving a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering in 2001, Dr. Shi worked as a research staff member at IBM Research Division for a year before joining the UT Austin faculty in 2002.

Dr. Shi specializes in thermal transport and thermoelectric energy conversion in nanostructured and complex materials. His research group has demonstrated a set of unique methods based on nanofabricated measurement devices and scanning probe microscopy to characterize energy transport in individual carbon nanotubes, graphene, nanowires, thin films, and nanocomposites. The publications from these groundbreaking works have been highly cited and have led to a better understanding of thermal transport processes in nanomaterials, especially carbon nanostructures. Based on the findings from some of these fundamental research efforts, high-performance thermal and thermoelectric devices are being developed in his group for thermal energy storage, vehicle waste heat recovery, and solar energy utilization. His other research efforts include thermal management of nanoelectronic devices and nanotechnologies for drug delivery and biomedical imaging.

Dr. Shi has served as an associate editor for Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering since 2011 and has also served on the executive committee of ThermalHub, a cyber-infrastructure for thermal science research and education supported by the National Science Foundation. His research achievements and professional services have been recognized by the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation in 2003, the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research in 2004, and the ASME Transaction Journal of Heat Transfer Outstanding Reviewer Award in 2005.

Science - Youxing Jiang, Ph.D.

Dr. Youxing JiangDr. Youxing Jiang is professor of physiology and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) in Dallas. In 2008, Dr. Jiang became an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received his bachelor of science degree in 1992 from Peking University and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale University in 1997. Dr. Jiang completed his postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University with Nobel Laureate Dr. Roderick Mackinnon, during which time he was at the forefront of groundbreaking research in the ion channel field. In 2003, Dr. Jiang was recruited to the Department of Physiology at UT Southwestern to launch his independent research program. Dr. Jiang is a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Searle Scholar Award, the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, and the McKnight Scholar Award for Neuroscience.

Dr. Jiang’s research team uses X-ray techniques on protein crystals to reveal the three dimensional atomic structures of ion channels. These channel proteins play a vital role by providing passageways within membranes to allow specific salt ions to move through. The transfer of ions across cell membranes generates electrical impulses in nerve and muscle cells that drive our thoughts, sensations and emotions in addition to a host of normal body functions. Electrical impulses coordinate the pumping of the heart, constrict blood vessels to maintain blood pressure, stimulate secretion of hormones, and activate many other kinds of cell functions in different body organs. Because of the prevalence and importance of ion channels in the human body, knowing their structures and functions provides understanding of the underlying mechanisms of channel-related human diseases—their causes, processes, development, and consequences.

Technology Innovation - Timothy J. Nedwed, Ph.D.

Dr. Tim NedwedDr. Tim Nedwed leads the Oil Spill Response Research Program for ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company (URC). His innovative research has been instrumental in furthering the industry’s capabilities for responding to large offshore oil spills. Dr. Nedwed’s research on spills for deep water well control events led to the subsea dispersant injection concept that was offered to BP early in the Macondo incident in 2010. Subsea dispersant injection kept fresh volatile oil from surfacing near the well site and, because of this, limited the exposure of response workers to potentially harmful organic vapors. Furthermore, the use of subsea dispersants was credited with keeping oil from washing onto Gulf Coast shorelines. The Gulf Coast swamp, marsh, and near shore areas have the highest bio-density of any ecosystem component in the Gulf and also are its breeding/nursery grounds. Keeping oil out of these areas may have reduced the environmental impacts from the Macondo spill by as much as an order of magnitude. In addition, Dr. Nedwed’s efforts have led to the incorporation of subsea dispersant injection into oil spill response contingency plans worldwide. This will provide a significant enhancement in the industry’s ability to respond in the unfortunate event of an offshore well-control incident in the future.

Dr. Nedwed holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from The University of Kansas, graduating with honors, and master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Houston, graduating at the top of his class. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas and has lived and worked here for over 25 years. He has worked for ExxonMobil at URC for 14 years and has led the oil spill response research program for seven years. He has filed several patent applications, not only in the area of oil spill response, but also in other areas of offshore oil and gas production. In 2010, Dr. Nedwed was honored with the ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company’s President’s Award for Innovation, Creativity, and Excellence for his contributions in the area of oil spill response.

Dr. Nedwed primarily conducts research to develop new oil spill response technologies and to study oil spill fate and effects. His focus is on in situ burning of oil spills, the use of dispersants, and remote detection of oil. In addition to the subsea dispersant concept, his research has led to full development of three new response tools that could significantly enhance the industry’s ability to respond to oil spills in a number of environments and is currently developing several other concepts to enhance oil spill response capabilities.

Dr. Nedwed has prepared and presented 17 papers on oil spill response at oil spill conferences worldwide. In addition, he is frequently invited to present his work at forums and workshops. He has 10 patent applications filed and numerous industrial designs.


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