Recognizing outstanding research

June 17, 2024
Aerial photograph of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
The annual Outstanding Research Awards recognize excellence in research for both tenured and early-career faculty; career faculty; efforts to broaden diversity, equity, and inclusion; and particularly innovative and impactful methods.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Outstanding Research Awards, which highlight notable research activities taking place at the University of Oregon.

Outstanding Career Award: Carlos Aguirre

The Outstanding Career Award is the UO’s highest award for tenure-track faculty and celebrates a deep and distinguished record of scholarship and research, as evidenced by external recognition and support of such efforts, as well as national/international prominence in their field of research.

Carlos Aguirre, a professor in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), is honored for an outstanding career in the history of modern Latin America. Aguirre’s scholarship on the history of slavery and abolition, crime and punishment, political imprisonment, intellectuals, print culture, and archives has resulted in numerous books, articles, and other publications, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. He has enriched the UO since he joined the university in 1996 as an assistant professor and as the director of Latin American Studies Program for a decade.

Aguirre has won numerous prestigious awards and fellowships including the 2024 Visiting Fellowship, Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University; the 2020 Presidential Fellowship in Humanistic Studies from the UO; and the 2019 University of Oregon Faculty Excellence Award.

Aguirre’s nominator for the award wrote, “Inspired by a scholarly mission, Aguirre continually builds bridges between the disciplines, across languages and nations, and between his scholarship, wider publics, and pressing issues of contemporary social justice.”

Early Career Award: Marian Hettiaratchi

The Early Career Award is the UO’s highest award for early career faculty to recognize and celebrate an emerging and significant record of scholarship and research on our campus.

Marian Hettiaratchi, an assistant professor in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, is honored for her stellar work in bioengineering of proteins. She joined the UO as an assistant professor at the Knight Campus in 2020, with her research aiming to address significant gaps in current protein therapeutics with applications ranging from spinal cord injuries to bone regeneration.

She was awarded the 2024 Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) Young Investigator Award, Emerging Investigator for the Journal of Materials Chemistry B, and 2023 Rising Star for the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. She has also been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an NIH R35 MIRA, NIH R21 Trailblazer Award, an MTF Biologics Junior Investigator Grant together with the J.R. Neff New Investigator Award, a Baxter Foundation Award, a Collins Medical Trust Grant, a Medical Research Foundation New Investigator Grant and a DoD Discovery Award along with several other internal grants. Hettiaratchi’s nominator wrote, “These are extraordinary accomplishments for someone so recently established in an independent research career.”

Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research Award: Gabriel Sanchez

The Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Research Award is given to an individual or team that has demonstrated leadership, impact, and advocacy to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Gabriel Sanchez, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology in CAS, is recognized for his efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion both at the university, as well as in the larger field of archaeology and anthropology. He joined the university only two years ago and his research interests include historical ecological approaches to understanding small-scale societies, community-based research, and applied zooarchaeology. His dedication to interdisciplinary and culturally sensitive methodologies in these areas is exceptional and can be seen through his collaborative work with tribal communities, such as his collaboration with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to establish the Indigenous Archaeology Field Methods Field School.

In his courses, Sanchez is reshaping the narrative of archaeology to be more inclusive and relevant by centering BIPOC scholars and emphasizing collaborative research practices with Indigenous communities. His nominator wrote that Sanchez “demonstrates that archaeology can be conducted ‘with, for, and by’ Indigenous peoples through co-creating research projects, emphasizing trust building, mutual respect, power sharing, and reciprocity.

Career Research Faculty Award: Leland O’Driscoll

The Career Research Faculty Award goes to a non-tenure track faculty member to recognize and celebrate a substantial and impactful scholarly record on our campus.

Leland O’Driscoll, associate director of the Oregon Hazards Lab (OHAZ), is honored for years of exceptional work in seismology activity in Oregon. O’Driscoll began at the UO in 2015 and was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Oregon Hazard Network. Leland’s work has also helped build the public impact of OHAZ’s work from a simple network of seismic stations to a statewide multi-hazard detection system. O’Driscoll’s nominator wrote, “Legislators and members of the press know how important the work of OHAZ is, and at its core, Leland serves as the heart and soul of the lab, supervising all the employees and supporting their work.”

Innovation and Impact Award: Melissa Graboyes

The Innovation and Impact Award recognizes an outstanding individual or team that distinguished themselves and the university through entrepreneurial activities that resulted in innovations with a measurable societal or environmental impact and/or individuals whose broader public engagement activity has proactively shared their research or viewpoints on research and policy issues with the public via traditional and/or new media channels.

Melissa Graboyes, an associate professor in the Department of History, is recognized for her innovative style of research and broad public engagement as a global health specialist and historian of medicine and science in modern Africa. Her scholarship employs unique and innovative methods from history, anthropology and other social sciences, and she often works with co-authors and collaborators, whether students or East African partners. Her work is also geared for a broad audience and has clear implications for contemporary global health discussions regarding a global malaria eradication program. She has won many prestigious awards, including a CAREER award, a Brush/Endeavour Award from the Department of History, and an A.J. Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy from the UO.

Graboyes’ nominator wrote, “It is hard to imagine a faculty member who has been more energetic and entrepreneurial in bringing diverse forms and methods of multi-disciplinary scholarship to bear upon issues of the utmost societal importance, from the global to the local. This unique and inspiring research profile is most deserving of recognition through this award.”

Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation