UAB professors recognized for research efforts by NSF CAREER Awards

Two UAB professors, Amber Genau, Ph.D., and Nicole Riddle, Ph.D., will receive funding from an elite program honoring young researchers.
Written by: Keaira Turner
Media contact: Katherine Shonesy,

Two professors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering were recognized by the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, the CAREER Awards.

Amber Genau, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Nicole C. Riddle, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, are 2016 CAREER Award recipients.

The CAREER Award is the National Science Foundation’s most distinguished award. It supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.

Selection for the CAREER Award includes two criteria: innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and community service demonstrated through scientific leadership, education or community outreach.

The funding from the CAREER Awards is given out over a five-year period to help the recipients in their research and with additional projects in conjunction with their research.

amber genauAmber Genau, Ph.D., Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Role of Ternary Alloying Elements in Eutectic Solidification (Award amount: $447,023)

Genau’s research project focuses on the freezing behavior of a particular class of metal alloys called eutectics, which includes cast iron and electronic solder. Her lab will carry out very precise bench-scale experiments under carefully controlled solidification conditions in order to better understand the fundamental science that influences the behavior of these complex alloys. The results will be used to create new models that help optimize composition and processing conditions for advanced material applications.

“The CAREER funding will also support a new collaboration with UAB’s Center for Community Outreach Development (CORD) office,” Genau said. “It will help us bring in more diverse applicants to the Materials Camp that my department hosts every summer, with the aim of helping high school students learn about the field of materials science and engineering.

nicole riddleNicole C. Riddle, Ph.D., Department of Biology

HP1 Protein Function in Gene Regulation and chromatin Structure (Award amount: $1,150,000)

Riddle’s research project focuses on a family of chromatin proteins, the Heterochromatin Protein 1 family. DNA is packaged into a complex structure, which contains a variety of proteins, including those of the HP1 family. These chromatin proteins determine if the information stored in a particular portion of the DNA is accessible — the genes are “turned on” — or inaccessible — the genes are “turned off” — as part of a process called gene regulation. Her research addresses how different HP1 proteins work together to contribute to gene regulation.

“Not only does this award help with my research of the HP1 proteins,” Riddle said, “but it also gives me the opportunity to design a summer laboratory course for students transferring to UAB and to establish a summer internship within our laboratory for students from Stillman College.”