FAU Scientists Awarded 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowships by National Academies' Gulf Research Program


by Lynda F. Rysavy | Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine selected Andia Chaves Fonnegra, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology in Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute as a recipient of its 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowship

Now in its fifth year, the fellowship program supports the development of emerging scientific leaders who are prepared to work at the intersections of environmental health, community health, and resilience, and offshore energy system safety in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. coastal regions.

Dr. Chaves Fonnegra runs the Laboratory of Integrative Marine and Coastal Ecology at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, which focuses on understanding mechanisms that underlie changes in marine and coastal communities. Her research focuses on enhancing the management of marine ecosystems by determining how ecological interactions are altered by anthropogenic activities and global impacts such as climate change and pollution. 

Early-Career Research Fellowships are awarded to individuals who demonstrate a strong scientific or technical background, superior scholarship, effective communication skills, and an ability to work across disciplines, among other attributes. 

All 20 fellows are provided with a $76,000 financial award along with mentoring support to help them navigate this period with independence, flexibility, and a built-in support network. Dr. Chaves Fonnegra’s work over the next two years will be under the mentorship of Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D., a research professor at FAU Harbor Branch. The support will allow Dr. Chaves Fonnegra and the fellows to take risks on research ideas, pursue unique collaborations, and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in improving offshore energy system safety and the resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems.

Dr. Fonnegra previously conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Mississippi, University of the Virgin Islands, and Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Chaves Fonnegra received her Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University in oceanography and marine biology. She also holds an M.S. from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a B.S. from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, both in marine biology. She was an UNESCO-L’Oréal Young Women in Science Fellow and a fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 

Yufei Tang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at FAU is also a 2019 Early-Career Fellow. Dr. Tang received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island and his M.S. and B.Eng. in electrical engineering and automation from Hohai University. His research interests are in the general areas of computational intelligence and cyber-physical systems. His current research focuses on networked big data and system analytics and predictive maintenance of marine structures/systems. Dr. Tang is currently collaborating with many research institutions, including the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He is the recipient of the University of Rhode Island’s Steve Bouley and Rhonda Wilson Graduate Fellowship, the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Student Abroad, and Best Paper Awards from the IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting and International Conference on Communications.

Nearly 70 Early-Career Fellowships have been awarded since 2015.