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Awards and Honors

Five from CVM Receive Early Career Innovators Awards

Five outstanding College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members were among the 25 NC State faculty to be named 2021-2022 Goodnight Early Career Innovators. The honor recognizes and rewards promising NC State early-career faculty whose scholarship is in STEM or STEM education. Recipients receive $22,000 ­for each of the next three years to support their scholarly work. 

CVM faculty receiving the awards are Glenn Cruse, assistant professor of molecular biomedical sciences; Margaret Gruen, assistant professor of clinical sciences; Gustavo Machado, assistant professor of population health and pathobiology; Kelly Ann Meiklejohn, assistant professor of population health and pathobiology; and Santosh Mishra, assistant professor of molecular biomedical science.

Cruse’s research focuses on the role that mast cells play in allergic and inflammatory diseases and on the identification of novel therapeutics that target mast cells. He has authored and co-authored over 30 publications, including articles in top journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Immunity. 

“I am really excited to be recognized by the Goodnight Early Innovators Award,” he says. “My laboratory is interested in unraveling the complex signaling pathways that regulate the functions of tissue-resident inflammatory cells, particularly during allergic inflammation. We are also committed to student involvement in research and providing high-quality training in both basic and translational science to students of all levels. The funds from this award will help to support both our research and training goals.”

Gruen is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. In addition to her DVM, she holds a Ph.D. with a focus on understanding the behaviors associated with pain in cats with naturally occurring arthritis. Her current research focuses on issues of human-animal interaction, pain management, cognition and aging. 

“I am incredibly honored to have received a Goodnight Early Career Innovator award and so grateful to the college, university and the Goodnight Foundation,” she says. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for my career development and growth as a scholar and will allow me to continue future independent research and support of veterinary and graduate student research.”

Machado’s selection as a Goodnight recipient comes on the heels of his recent selection as one of nine recipients of a New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award, granted to early career scientists by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. His research is focused on global health and infectious diseases – specifically on integrating the approaches that different countries take in mapping the spread of infectious diseases statistically and forecasting disease emergence. The work is designed to increase biosecurity worldwide. 

“I’m really delighted to receive this honor,” he says. “It’s really more of a tribute to my team. I just want to thank them. It shows we’re going in the right direction. It’s more important to recognize what they do.”

Meiklejohn’s research focuses on DNA forensics. Because non-human biological material is currently underused in forensic casework, her research seeks to examine reliable and accurate methods for its identification to assist in investigations.

“I am deeply honored to have received this award,” she says. “I am passionate about STEM research and education, especially in forensic biology, and I hope to only continue my efforts at NC State in the years to come. This award will allow me to hire more undergraduates and offer additional training opportunities for my students and staff.”

Mishra’s work deals with neuroscience and cell biology, and his research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying chronic itch and possibly pain. This includes tracing the neural circuit for itch sensation in the spinal cord and central nervous system and discovering the degree to which specific mechanisms of itch are observed across different mammalian species. 

“This is truly fantastic news, and I am grateful to the CVM and NC State University for providing such an amazing ‘Think and Do’ environment,” he says. “Clearly, this was all possible due to an unwavering support of my mentors, collaborators, colleagues, an amazing team of students, postdocs and staff in the lab and, last but not least, support of my wonderful family. We plan to use the award money toward exciting research to unravel the mysteries behind chronic itch and pain.”

Congratulations to these outstanding faculty members.