Two Penn State graduate alumni recognized for early career achievements

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Sindura Ganapathi, who received a doctorate in pharmacology, and Yuebing Zheng, who received a doctorate in engineering science and mechanics, are the recipients of the inaugural Graduate School Alumni Society (GSAS) Early Career Award. This award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional success in their chosen field within the first 10 years after obtaining their graduate degrees.

Ganapathi was selected to receive the award in recognition of his outstanding early career contributions and his ability to leverage scientific knowledge and leadership for a global vision of improved health.

Ganapathi is a program officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he manages a large portfolio of funding in the area of maternal and child health to find solutions to diseases of pregnancy and early childhood in the developing world. He also started many new programs at the foundation, such as the coordination between human and animal health, “One Health,” to accelerate innovations throughout the world.

Ganapathi began his career as a veterinarian in India. After obtaining a master’s degree in veterinary pharmacology, he enrolled in the College of Medicine at Penn State and received a doctorate. He also received a master of business administration at Penn State Harrisburg. He continued his research in electrophysiology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, and while there, received the Martin Rodbell award in 2012.

According to his adviser, “As a graduate student, Ganapathi conceptualized, developed and published a body of work with clear clinical significance. In three high profile publications, he demonstrated the biophysical mechanisms by which roscotivine, a drug that targets hERG potassium channels, can limit cell growth in cancer and cardiovascular disease models without inducing life-threatening arrhythmias.” His academic studies were supported by a pre-doctoral grant from the American Heart Association that he wrote and for which he served as principle investigator.

Zheng is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. After three years of postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles, Zheng joined the University of Texas, Austin, faculty in the fall of 2013. His research group works in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. He and his students seek to understand and control light and matter at the nanoscale, and to develop novel nanomaterial and nanodevices to benefit clean energy, information technology and health care.

Zheng was selected to receive the award in recognition of his productive and groundbreaking research in bio-nanotechnology and its potential to transform important aspects of mechanics and medical science.

“Dr. Zheng has already made extraordinary accomplishments and contributed significantly to his field,” said one of his nominators. “He has authored and co-authored 46 peer-reviewed journal papers, wrote four book chapters, gave over 30 conference talks and presentations, and filed one U.S. and one Singapore patent application,” and he added, “His research has been reported in more than 100 public media such as ABC News, Time Magazine, L.A. Times and Bloomberg.”

As a graduate student, Zheng received several awards, including the Alumni Association Dissertation Award in 2010, the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award in 2009, the Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award in 2009, and the American Academy of Mechanics Founder’s Grant and Prize from the Robert M. and Mary Haythornthwaite Foundation.

Last Updated April 28, 2014