Four named winners of Faculty Distinguished Research Awards

For the past 15 years, Research ShowCASE has brought the Case Western Reserve University community together to celebrate remarkable inventions, solutions and discoveries of research. In recent years at this event, the university has recognized outstanding faculty contributions with the Faculty Distinguished Research Award.

Though the recipients can’t be recognized in person today—the original scheduled date for Research ShowCASE—CWRU is honoring four professors whose groundbreaking research has made waves within engineering, medicine, physics and nursing. Each recipient is awarded $10,000 in research funds and, earlier in the semester, they each received  a plaque during an in-person surprise visit from President Barbara R. Snyder, Provost Ben Vinson III and Vice President for Research and Technology Management Suzanne Rivera.

This year’s recipients are: 

  • Roger H. French, Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering;
  • Rose Gubitosi-Klug, professor of pediatrics and associate professor of pharmacology;
  • Kenneth D. Singer, Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics; and
  • Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing.

“Year after year, I am so impressed by the work of our faculty,” Rivera said. “We have great pride in the research conducted at Case Western Reserve; it is incredible to see how it impacts our community and the wider world.”

Learn more about the recipients below.

Roger French

Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Case School of Engineering

Photo of Roger French holding an award plaque

Roger French arrived at Case Western Reserve University in 2010 following a successful 25-year career at the Dupont Co. He quickly proved himself to be a devoted educator and, according to Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, Charles H. Phipps Dean of Engineering, “a highly prolific researcher with high-impact scholarship, an exceptional colleague and collaborator and a committed research mentor.” 

French’s impactful and innovative research led to the launch of the Solar Durability and Lifetime Extension (SDLE) Center, a world-class research center dedicated to data science and analytics as applied to materials and energy sciences. Established in 2011 by French, the SDLE Center focuses on lifetime and degradation science of long-lifetime environmentally exposed materials, ranging from solar energy and photovoltaic technologies to energy efficiency and virtual energy auditing of buildings to the use of engineering epidemiology and data analytics. 

Rohan Akolkar, a colleague and F. Alex Nason Chair and Ohio Eminent Scholar for Advanced Energy Research Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, expressed that French’s work with the center has placed the university “on the map of leading institutions around the world researching energy sustainability.”

French’s dedication to education is perhaps best seen through his role as a research mentor. He maintains an inclusive group of undergraduates and is the research advisor or co-advisor for 16 PhD students across seven departments. 

His noted expertise in data handling and experience working with—and developing new—methodologies and algorithms led French to extend his work into data science more generally. He also developed a minor in applied data science in which more than 70 students are enrolled.

He played a major role in establishing interdisciplinary collaboration beyond the Case School of Engineering to the School of Medicine, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Weatherhead School of Management and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

A colleague from another institution, who French meets with regularly as part of a group of Kyocera Professors around the country, noted: “Roger’s research has been a highlight of [our annual] gatherings. It has been abundantly clear that, from the viewpoint of creativity, quality, and momentum, his research leads this group.”

French has published more than 240 journal articles and papers, as well as a book and several book chapters, and is a prolific international speaker. He holds 28 issued U.S. patents and four active filings.

Rose Gubitosi-Klug

Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Pharmacology
School of Medicine

Photo of Rose Gubitosi-Klug holding award plaque

With the significant rise in youth and adolescent diabetes over the last four decades, Rose Gubitosi-Klug’s work has not only changed the understanding of this challenging illness—it has impacted how patients are managed.

A member of the Case Western Reserve University faculty since 1999, Gubitosi-Klug also is chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, an eminent scientist in children and teen diabetes, and a national expert in the field. Her post-graduate training began at the lab bench, investigating the role of inflammation in the development of diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

Gubitosi-Klug led a critical clinical study, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC), which followed more than 1,200 participants across 27 institutions. Her leadership of this national effort substantiated that intensive diabetes therapy reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with Type 1 diabetes, and that the differences in outcome between intensive and conventional therapy persist long term.

Extending beyond these landmark studies, she has led several other multi-center study groups. The National Institutes of Health—which awarded Gubitosi-Klug and her collaborators $25.4 million for six years of study starting in 2011—recently granted up to $24.9 million for five more years.

She has led several other multi-center clinical trials, which often carry out large, complex studies that drive medical advances worldwide and translate into changes in health care. An exemplary example of team science at its best, the majority of Gubitosi-Klug’s work is focused on clinical translational research involving a large number of scientific collaborators in Cleveland and at other medical centers nationally.

“In biomedical research, it is uncommon to see an investigator’s efforts change the practice of medicine and the standard of care,” said Mukesh Jain, professor in the Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the School of Medicine. “The fact that Dr. Gubitosi-Klug’s efforts have achieved this place her in rarified company that is simply exceptional by any metric.”

Kenneth Singer

Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics
Director of the Engineering Physics Program
College of Arts and Sciences

Photo of Kenneth Singer holding an award plaque

Researcher. Professor. Entrepreneur. Kenneth Singer has enjoyed great success in all three worlds. His research on optics and soft materials is among the most highly cited in the physics and chemistry literature, an honor for which he was recognized with highly selective fellowship status by both the American Physical Society and Optical Society of America.

His authoritative research led to the creation of a successful company, Folio Photonics Inc., which developed a technique to produce and read data in three dimensions on a single disc using multilayered polymer films. Singer founded the company in 2012 in response to a swelling demand to archive digital data. He is executive board chair and chief innovation officer, and he holds numerous patents on polymeric-optic materials and devices, polymer lasers and optical data storage.

His research and reputation have helped attract top faculty and bring in donor support to Case Western Reserve University and the Department of Physics. 

Singer has been a tremendous collaborator and leader, said Glenn Starkman, Distinguished University Professor and Department of Physics co-chair. He launched the Engineering Physics degree program, spearheaded the creation of the Materials for Opto/Electronics Research and Education (MORE) Center, of which he is the faculty director, and was a founding and leading member of the Institute for Advanced Materials.  

Singer’s interdisciplinary approach to education and research has brought together the science departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and several engineering departments in the Case School of Engineering. 

“Today’s CWRU would be much different—poorer and less collegial—if Ken had not joined our faculty in 1989,” said Charles Rosenblatt, professor and Ohio Eminent Scholar in Condensed Matter Physics. “Ken’s intellectual influence, as well as his educational and service contributions, have reached far and wide, and it [is] fitting that Ken receive the Faculty Distinguished Research Award.”

Jaclene A. Zauszniewski

Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing

Photo of Jaclene A. Zauszniewski holding an award plaque

In her 30-plus years at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Jaclene A. Zauszniewski has established herself as a pioneering researcher in psychiatric-mental health nursing and an internationally recognized authority on resourcefulness research and self-management interventions.

Since joining the Case Western Reserve faculty in 1992, Zauszniewski has been the principal investigator on 22 research grants and co-investigator on 14, and has led 24 education and training grants for a total funding of nearly $30 million over her career.

Her research centers on family members who serve as caregivers of persons with various forms of mental illness. In her recommendation of Zauszniewski, School of Nursing Dean Carol M. Musil said Zauszniewski is, to date, the most widely published nurse scientist in the area of personal and social resourcefulness research, with more than 190 publications in refereed journals and books, and approximately 400 papers and posters at regional, national and international conferences.

“Throughout her career, Dr. Zauszniewski has demonstrated a great ability to lead, inspire and support others while moving nursing practice and science forward,” Musil added.

Zauszniewski is internationally known for her trademarked Resourcefulness Training model and for designing the Depression Cognition Scale (DCS), based on developmental psychologist Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Human Development. The former is a model designed for caregivers of persons with mental illness who are the “safety net” for individuals unable to live independently. DCS, which has been translated into multiple languages and used across a variety of cultures, is used to detect depressive thoughts in the elderly.

“Dr. Zauszniewski has a passionate dedication to the use of scholarly research as means to improve the lives of others and cultivate the collective body of knowledge in clinical practice,” said Sandra Thomas, professor and PhD program chair, University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Nursing, in a letter of nomination support for Zauszniewski.

“Who gets an award for doing something fun?” Zauszniewski said when she received her award. “This is an incredible honor—thank you. I’m going to continue having fun!”