Junior faculty earn awards for excellence in research

James Schnable (left), ARD Dean and Director Archie Clutter, Dirac Twidwell and Oleh Khalimonchuk at the Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research awards reception on March 22.

March 23, 2017

Lincoln, Neb. — The Agricultural Research Division (ARD) of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln presented awards to three assistant professors on March 22, in recognition of excellence in research. The award is given annually to tenure-track assistant professors with an ARD appointment who have a maximum of five years of professional service at the University, and is based on publication record, evidence of external funding activity and peer recognition.

Junior faculty receiving awards for excellence in research for 2016 were Oleh Khalimonchuck, Dirac Twidwell and James Schnable. 

Oleh Khalimonchuk is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, and an affiliate member of the Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Khalimonchuk’s current research focuses on fundamental processes that are vital for mitochondrial functions, which when deficient contribute to complex maladies in humans. This work is significantly advancing the understanding of mitochondrial functions in health, cellular stress, and degenerative diseases while providing a molecular foundation for new therapeutics targeting currently incurable diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 

Dirac Twidwell is an assistant professor leading the Applied Complex Adaptive Systems Lab in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. His interdisciplinary research program focuses on understanding the drivers of complexity and adaptive responses of ecosystems that benefit human well-being. Twidwell’s expertise has contributed to innovative technologies and diverse stakeholder partnerships meant to address the disappearance of rangelands worldwide and to provide new solutions that guarantees their persistence and profitability for future generations. 

James Schnable is an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. He is affiliated with both the Center for Plant Science Innovation and the Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative. Schnable’s research focuses on employing new methods to combine phenotypic and functional genomic data from both domesticated grain crops (corn, sorghum, sugar cane, prose millet, foxtail millet, etc.) and their wild relatives. Projects in Schnable’s lab involve close collaborations with computer scientists, statisticians, engineers and applied plant breeders. 

Junior faculty for excellence in research awards are provided by the Ruth Branham Agricultural Research Fund.