[Recording Available] Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence

[Recording Available] Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence

[Recording Available] Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence


November 8, 2021    
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm



Each year, the Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence are given in recognition of the research promise demonstrated by individual postdoctoral scholars. The awards are open to postdoctoral scholars in all disciplines and are designed to assist postdoctoral scholars in their continued professional development by supporting the recipients in conference travel, purchasing books, or engaging in other scholarly activities that directly enhance the individual’s professional growth.

2021 Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Research Excellence recipients:

Meet this year’s winners as they each provide a presentation on their research activity.

Portrait of Li Ke

Li Ke

Li Ke is a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Education at UNC. His research centers around promoting meaningful science learning for all learners, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In particular, he is interested in how teachers can support students in engaging in scientific practices such as scientific modeling in ways that are meaningful to the discipline of science and students’ everyday lives. Li Ke is a co-principal investigator on a $1.9 million National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at developing instructional materials using scientific modeling to teach about viral pandemics. He leads development of research instruments around modeling and coordinates efforts to ensure that the developed instructional materials are supportive of and responsive to emerging multilingual learners.

Portrait of Rebecca Krupenevich

Rebecca Krupenevich

Rebecca Krupenevich is a postdoctoral fellow in the UNC Applied Biomechanics Lab in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Krupenevich earned her PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Maryland where she investigated age-related differences in walking biomechanics. Her current research focuses on how changes in foot musculoskeletal structure and function contribute to impaired mobility in older adults. Her research will increase our understanding of neuromechanical mechanisms underlying age-related mobility impairment to support improving the health and welfare of our aging population. Krupenevich is funded by a National Research Service Award (NRSA F32) from the National Institute on Aging.

Portrait of Zhenyi Ni

Zhenyi Ni

Zhenyi Ni is a postdoctoral researcher in Louis D. Rubin Jr. Distinguished Professor Jinsong Huang’s group at the department of Applied Physical Sciences at UNC. Ni earned his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University. His current search focuses exploring highly efficient and long-term stable metal halide perovskite solar cells for the harness of solar energy to make the renewable energy much cheaper and reduce electric bills for the whole world, from understanding the fundamental material and device physics which correlates the merits of solar cells with material properties. Results from his research will push the solar energy conversion efficiency of perovskite solar cells to its limit and make the renewable solar energy affordable for everyone.

Portrait of Kai Wang

Kai Wang

Kai Wang is a postdoctoral research associate in Zongchao Han’s Lab at the Department of Ophthalmology. His current research focuses on biomaterials facilitated gene and cell therapy of ophthalmic diseases, including age-related diseases, pediatric cancers, and inherited diseases. His research allows for the treatment of these diseases previously perceived as untreatable. The research outcome has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature Cancer, Advanced Functional Materials, ACS Nano, Journal of Controlled Release, etc. Wang also obtains Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Gene Therapy from NCbiotech-Pfizer and other awards. His research in immune cell therapy of retinoblastoma is going to clinical trial, and non-immunogenic gene therapy viral vectors are becoming intellectual properties at UNC.

Portrait of Jessica C. Young

Jessica C. Young

Jessica C. Young, PhD is a pharmacoepidemiologist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Her overarching goal is to develop methods for leveraging observational data to conduct timely research improving public health. Young earned her PhD in Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where she used linked electronic medical records and insurance claims data to examine opioid prescribing for post-surgical pain and the risk of prolonged postoperative opioid use. She is currently funded by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, and her work focuses on developing methods to combat challenges inherent in using large data, increasing the capability for large health systems to evolve their practice using evidence-based research, ultimately delivering higher-quality care to their patients. Prior to coming to UNC, Jessica worked as a Policy Analyst at a non-profit public policy firm and received a B.A. in Mathematics from Emory University.