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Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards

Our commitment to enriching the research skills and professional growth of young faculty members at ORAU member institutions is embodied in the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards Program. These competitive research awards provide seed money for junior faculty members that often result in additional funding from other sources. The award amount provided by ORAU is $5,000. The applicant’s institution is required to match the award with at least an additional $5,000. This is a one-year grant (June 1 to May 31).

Eligibility for the Powe Awards is open to full-time assistant professors at ORAU member institutions within two years of their tenure track appointment at the time of application. If there is a question about eligibility, your ORAU Councilor makes the final determination. Only two nominations are allowed per institution.

Research must fall within one of these five disciplines:

  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics/Computer Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy, Management, or Education

We are currently seeking industry partners for FY25 awards. Updates will be shared when additional information is available.

Junior faculty members interested in applying should consult their ORAU Councilor, and visit the frequently asked questions.

The application period will close on January 8, 2025.

Impact Areas

Interested in being a reviewer for this year’s Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards process? Complete this brief contact form, including your specific area of expertise, and someone will be in contact with you.

Interested in being a Powe reviewer graphic

FY2024 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award Winners

Award Recipient Member Institution
Evan Goldstein  Augusta University
Dominick Rizk (GDIT) Catholic University of America
Di Fang Duke University
Chandra Adhikari Fayetteville State University
Asa Bluck Florida International University
Qiang Zhong Iowa State University
Esmat Farzana Iowa State University
Sviatoslav Baranets Louisiana State University
Tan Chen Michigan Technological University
Alycen Wiacek (The AREA)  Oakland University
Zhihui Zhu Ohio State University
Tao Zhou Penn State University
Justin Andrews Purdue University
Daniel Howsmon Tulane University
Rachel June Smith University of Alabama at Birmingham
Agnieszka Truszkowska University of Alabama in Huntsville
Shang Song University of Arizona
Kenry University of Arizona
Linyue Gao University of Colorado Denver
Stephanie Gilley University of Colorado Denver
Yan Yang University of Delaware
Angelika Neitzel University of Florida
Ming Zhong University of Houston
Yuan Gao University of Memphis
Yi Hua University of Mississippi
Madura Pathirage University of New Mexico
Lin Ma University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Linlang He University of North Texas
Kasun Kalhara Gunasooriya University of Oklahoma
Eda Koculi University of Texas at El Paso
Qilei Zhu University of Utah
Whitney Loo University of Wisconsin - Madison
Lin Meng Vanderbilt University
Alexander Schuppe Vanderbilt University
Jingqiu Liao Virginia Tech
Xi Wang Washington University in St. Louis
Huaijin Ken Leon Loh Yale University

Powe Award recipient: Alexander Bataller, Ph.D.

Alexander Bataller, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at North Carolina State University, credits the ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award he received in 2020 with enabling him to advance his research in the use of molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications. In the event of an accident, a molten salt reactor can better maintain the integrity of the nuclear fuel. However, the corrosive nature of salt has presented a challenge in the development of these reactors.

Using the $5,000 ORAU grant, which was matched by his university, Bataller built a custom optical furnace as part of his team’s research into molten salt reactors. With the new optical furnace, Bataller and his team can utilize ultrafast laser and emission spectroscopy to develop new experimental capabilities for studying molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications.

Alexander Bataller, 2020 ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner studies the use of molten salts for advanced nuclear power applications

Powe Award recipient: Daniel Becker, Ph.D.

Daniel Becker, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, received a Powe Award in 2023 for his continued research on bat migration in western Oklahoma. Becker is studying migratory Mexican free-tailed bats and the pathogens they might carry that are possible threats to human or wildlife health.

“There is a lot of an interest right now in what bats are doing and how wildlife health impacts human health,” Becker said. “It’s really great to have this kind of work recognized by a competitive pool and know that your research trajectory is going on a good path.

Migratory Mexican free-tailed bat

Contact us

For more information about the Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, contact the University Partnerships office at (865) 576-6513 or