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SU professor awarded prestigious Watson Grant for research on treatment for spinal cord injury
SU professor awarded prestigious Watson Grant for research on treatment for spinal cord injuryJune 29, 2004Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Julie Hasenwinkel, assistant professor of bioengineering and neuroscience in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), has been awarded one of 10 prestigious Watson grants from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR).
The awards–$200,000 each–are designed to recognize and support outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show the potential for leadership and scientific discovery in the field of biotechnology. Hasenwinkel received the award to research the area of neural tissue engineering, particularly on the development of hydrogel-based bridging scaffolds designed to promote nerve regeneration in the central nervous system. The bridging scaffolds will be designed to have mechanical properties similar to spinal cord tissue and engineered pathways for oriented, directional growth of regenerating axons.
“Dr. Hasenwinkel’s research could potentially enable better treatment of spinal cord injuries, and it will further strengthen Syracuse University’s important role as a center for biotechnology discoveries,” says Dr. Russell W. Bessette, NYSTAR’s executive director.
“This is absolutely wonderful news for Syracuse University and deserving recognition of the pioneering research that Julie Hasenwinkel is performing,” says ECS Dean Eric F. Spina. “Julie has made a significant impact in teaching and research in the short time that she has been at Syracuse, and it is gratifying to know that NYSTAR and the leading scientists who recommended her for the award recognize that we have a real treasure. I look forward to the outcomes of the research to be supported with the Watson award and to the involvement of more undergraduate and graduate students in research.”
Candidates for a Watson grant must have been awarded a doctoral degree and have less than five years’ experience. Only one award is made per institution.
An independent peer review panel comprised of life science and enabling science experts reviewed the applications, and winners were selected based on the best science and the best likelihood of economic success.
In her four years as an assistant professor at SU, she has made a significant impact on numerous undergraduate and graduate students through her teaching. She has developed two new graduate courses in biomaterials and the emerging field of tissue engineering, and both courses have seen high enrollment since inception. Hasenwinkel has also significantly enhanced two pre-existing courses, all while developing her laboratories, publishing papers and applying for research funding. Along with her cutting-edge research on nerve regeneration following spinal cord injury, Hasenwinkel is performing research in developing a new type of bone cement for joint replacements.
“Julie’s excellence in teaching is readily apparent in the numerous ways in which she participates, contributes and leads the teaching efforts of our department,” says Jeremy Gilbert, associate dean for research and doctoral programs in ECS and former chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Neuroscience. In April, Hasenwinkel was recognized by Syracuse University with a Teaching Recognition Award sponsored by SU’s Meredith Professors for Teaching Excellence.
Research is the focus of the bioengineering department’s Biomaterials Group, of which Hasenwinkel and Gilbert are the core faculty members. About 25 undergraduate and graduate students voluntarily come together each week to present their research, discuss particular problems and to learn from each other.
“There is no question in my mind that Julie has made and will continue to make a profound impact on the quality and visibility of the teaching within the department, our college and the University,” Gilbert says. “Her enthusiasm for academic efforts is contagious, and her quality and dedication have raised our programs.”