Faculty Receive National Academies’ Early-Career Research Fellowships

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Gulf of Mexico, Early-Career Research Fellowships, Scientists, Marine Science, Engineering, Biological Sciences

The fellowships are aimed to improve quality of life, resilience, and safety in the Gulf of Mexico and the nation’s coastal communities and ecosystems.

By gisele galoustian | 9/30/2019

Florida Atlantic University’s Andia Chaves Fonnegra, Ph.D. and Yufei Tang, Ph.D., have received The Gulf Research Program’s 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowships of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 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 coastal regions in the United States.

“Professors Tang and Fonnegra are among an elite group of early-career researchers around the nation who have demonstrated exceptional scientific and technical skills as well as the ability to work effectively across a multitude of disciplines,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Receiving this prestigious fellowship will allow them to take risks on bold 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.”

The 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. Nearly 70 Early-Career Fellowships have been awarded since 2015. The Gulf Research Program’s Early-Career Research Fellowship helps researchers during the critical pre-tenure phase of their careers. 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.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Drs. Fonnegra and Tang for being selected as recipients of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s early-career research fellowships,” said James Sullivan, Ph.D., executive director of FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. “They excel in their respective fields of marine biology, oceanography, big data and system analytics and marine structures and systems engineering. Their contributions as research fellows will help to fulfill the National Academies’ mission in the Gulf of Mexico and improve quality of life, resilience, and safety for our nation’s coastal communities and ecosystems.”

Fonnegra is an assistant professor of biology in FAU’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and Harbor Branch, one of the University’s four research pillars. She previously conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Mississippi, University of the Virgin Islands and Nova Southeastern University, where she received her Ph.D. in oceanography and marine biology. She holds an M.S. degree from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a B.S. degree from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, both in marine biology. Fonnegra was a UNESCO-L’Oréal Young Women in Science Fellow and a fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. At FAU, she oversees the FAU Laboratory of Integrative Marine and Coastal Ecology, which focuses on understanding mechanisms that underlie changes in marine and coastal communities. Her own research focuses on enhancing management of marine ecosystems by determining how ecological interactions are altered by anthropogenic activities and global impacts such as climate change and pollution.

Tang is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, and a fellow of FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems (I-SENSE), one of the University’s four research pillars. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island and his M.S. and B.Eng. degrees in electrical engineering and automation from Hohai University in China. His research interests are in the general areas of computational intelligence and cyber-physical systems and focuses on networked big data and system analytics and predictive maintenance of marine structures/systems. Tang has current collaborations with many research institutions, including FAU’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, FAU’s Harbor Branch 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.