Faculty Convocation Awardees

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Eric Von Wettberg, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities

Dr. von Wettberg is an assistant professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University. He usually teaches Evolution and Population Genetics. He has taught the graduate research methods course (Introduction to Biological Research) and sometimes teaches special topic courses, such as Teaching Evolution. The von Wettberg lab studies evolutionary ecology, ecological genetics, and conservation genetics in crops, crop wild relatives, and rare plants. However, his main interests are broad, encompassing agroecology and conservation as well as ecology and evolution. He is interested in understanding how plants tolerate environmental stress, how stress tolerance evolves, and how variation in tolerance affects interactions with other organisms. His group encourages the use of a broad range of tools from genomics and next-generation sequencing, to physiology, to field biology, and collaborate widely to test hypotheses in a number of ecological communities - many in beautiful exotic places.

His lab primarily works on wild chickpea in Turkey and Ethiopia as part of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Chickpea, and also has active projects with mango, North American Medicago species, and several rare plants in South Florida and the Caribbean.

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Kevin O'Shea, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Integrated Science and Humanity (SISH)

Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities

Professor O'Shea's research projects focus on mechanistic organic chemistry particularly related to radical and photochemical processes. The main goal of the current research program is to achieve a fundamental mechanistic understanding of semiconductor photocatalyic, radiolytic, and sonolytic induced oxidation of organic pollutants in aqueous solutions. His lab uses product and kinetic studies to establish the reaction pathways of hydroxyl radicals with a variety of organic compounds and chemical pollutants. The fundamental information obtained from these studies has been useful in developing predictive models. This information is imperative for the implementation and application of oxidation processes for the remediation of harmful organic compounds from groundwater and drinking water. A current focus of his research group is the oxidative degradation of alkyl ethers. Alkyl ethers, particularly MTBE, once championed as gasoline additives for cleaner burning fuel, have turned into a huge environmental problem. These substrates have been introduced into the environment in large quantities and are extremely persistent. Unfortunately they are not effectively removed by traditional methods. Dr. O'Shea has recently shown that these oxidation processes are effective and extremely promising for the treatment of these problematic pollutants. His lab is also studying the treatment of Arsenic contaminated water by these oxidation processes. Other research interests include the reactions of singlet oxygen and development of photochemical switches.

For full FIU article click here.