Fall 2022 Message from the Chair

Michele Manuel, Ph.D.
Michele Manuel, Ph.D.

Dear colleagues, alumni, supporters and friends, 

As 2022 nears its end, our annual Rhines Report magazine is an opportunity to reflect on a year of success and change on our campus. While we can’t possibly feature every achievement of our outstanding students, staff and faculty, we have selected a few notable ones to highlight.  

In this issue’s cover story, get to know Angelika Neitzel, Ph.D., our newest faculty member, and holder of the Rhines Rising Star Robert DeHoff Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering. Dr. Neitzel, whose research expertise includes polymer synthesis and characterization, including understanding polymerization kinetics and its associated mechanisms, will join us on campus in January.  

It was another exceptional year for research in the department. The Nuclear Engineering Program earned over $2.5 million in Nuclear Energy University Program awards, and Erika Moore, Ph.D., received the prestigious NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award for her groundbreaking biomaterials work exploring the connections between one’s ancestry and how it affects wound healing and the role of the immune system in regenerative engineering.  

Ryan Need, Ph.D., earned an NSF CAREER Award for their research in developing the next generation of data storage and information processing technology. Tori Miller, Ph.D., will use her DARPA Award to develop laser processes that will enable astronauts to manufacture parts while in orbit.  

In an effort to elevate and support diverse communities in space health research, Josephine Allen, Ph.D., in collaboration with NASA and the Translational Research Institute for Space Health is working to address the lack of diversity in the space biology community. As a researcher who has been studying the effects of space on the health of astronauts for years, she’s determined to increase inclusion and access to health-related space research. 

In engineering, the demand for AI skills is not likely to wane, and Nancy Ruzycki, Ph.D., is leading multiple K-12 engineering education initiatives around the state of Florida to develop the teachers and the students to help fill those expected STEM needs.  

Also in this issue, a remarkable alumni spotlight story featuring Branimir “Ben” Botic (M.S. ’71, MSE), whose generous donations to the department this year established the Botic Family Scholars Professional Pathways Fund. 

And, as always, thank you for your continued generosity and support for the department’s students, faculty and staff. To keep up with all the department’s news, stories and events, please connect with us on our social media channels! 

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