From left to right: 2024 Ascending Star Fellowship researchers Faisal Aqlan, Daniel Bennett, Melanie Gast, Omid Ghasemi Fare, Meg Hancock, Elizabeth Munnich, Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh, Siobhan Smith-Jones and Ian Stansel.

A University of Louisville program meant to help ‘ascending star’ faculty shine even brighter has named nine researchers and scholars to its fourth cohort.

Through the Ascending Star Fellowship program, the Office of Research and Innovation partners with academic units to accelerate scholarship and promote the national reputation of exceptional mid-career researchers. During the year long program, the fellows work with an external mentor and are coached through an ambitious project that moves their scholarship to the next level of development.  

This year’s class — representing four schools — includes:

  • Faisal Aqlan, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, whose work focuses on automation, process improvement, engineering education, and sensor-based virtual reality for manufacturing and healthcare applications. 
  • Daniel Bennett, College of Business, whose work focuses on how environmental change influences entrepreneurship and innovation, and the implications for regional and national economic development.
  • Melanie Gast, College of Arts and Sciences, whose work focuses on race, class, and gender in higher education.
  • Omid Ghasemi Fare, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, whose work focuses on geothermal energy, thermo-hydro-mechanical modeling and characterization of soils, unsaturated soil, heat and mass transport in porous media, transportation geotechnics and geotechnical earthquake engineering. 
  • Meg Hancock, College of Education and Human Development, whose work focuses on gender and diversity in sport organizations, career development in sport and sport and social change. 
  • Elizabeth Munnich, College of Business, whose work focuses on developing and evaluating strategies for improving health and reducing healthcare spending by more efficiently and effectively utilizing healthcare resources.
  • Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, whose work focuses on converting carbon feedstocks from plant biomass, waste plastics and carbon dioxide into advanced fuels, biomaterials and battery components.
  • Siobhan Smith-Jones, College of Arts and Sciences, whose work focuses on exploring African American women as interpretive communities and, through the fellowship program, on Black horror television.
  • Ian Stansel, College of Arts and Sciences, director of UofL’s Creative Writing Program and fiction/non-fiction writer. 

“I’m ecstatic to work with this year’s cohort and help further their already stellar careers and scholarship,” said M. Cynthia Logsdon, associate vice president for research and innovation, who leads the fellowship program. “They’re already ‘stars,’ of course, but our goal is to help them shine even brighter.” 

To be considered for the program, faculty must be associate professor rank, must be nominated by their unit and must show a “consistent record of scholarship with the passion and desire to achieve greater national recognition.”