January 10, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate professors Mohammed Baalousha (environmental health sciences (ENHS)) and Brie Turner-McGrievy (health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB)) are recipients of 2018 Breakthrough Star Awards. The researchers are two of 13 faculty members chosen by USC’s Office of the Vice President for Research from a pool of nominations from across the university. Selected by peers based on early career achievements, Breakthrough Stars exceed expectations in their fields, demonstrate exceptional potential and make outstanding contributions to research and scholarship.
"Our goal in developing this award program was to find the most outstanding scholars and researchers in our community and give them the recognition they deserve," ays USC Vice President for Research Prakash Nagarkatti. "But, the truth is that they honor their students and colleagues far more every day, with their hard work and dedication."
Over the past 12 years, I have witnessed the development and progress of Dr. Baalousha to achieve his career goals and to become a world-leading figure in the area of environmental nanoscience.
-Jamie Lead, ENHS professor and CENR director
Specializing in the risks and benefits of naturally occurring and engineered nanoparticles, Baalousha earned a Ph.D. in environmental biogeochemistry from the University of Bordeaux in France in 2006, but he had already begun a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom during the prior year. Nearly a decade and several research fellowships later, Baalousha departed for the United States to begin his first academic appointment at the Arnold School of Public Health’s ENHS department and SmartState Center for Environmental Nanoscience and Risk (CENR).
Since then, the Emerging Investigator Award winner (Journal of Environmental Science) has published 26 peer-reviewed papers (66 total during his career) and is working on his second book. Baalousha has secured more than $1.3 million in competitive research grants, including a $510,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program Award and a $286,000 award to support his National Science Foundation EPSCoR Research Fellowship. He’s played a critical role in the development of CENR, including the mentorship and education of K12 and university graduate and undergraduate students and has served in leadership roles within the field through activities such as editing special issues for peer-reviewed journals and chairing international conferences.
“Dr. Baalousha is recognized nationally and internationally by those in his field as a leading environmental health and public health scientist developing a research core area that will make USC shine in establishing an international reputation for excellence in nanomaterial science and health effects in humans and the environment,” says ENHS chair Geoff Scott.
“Over the past 12 years, I have witnessed the development and progress of Dr. Baalousha to achieve his career goals and to become a world-leading figure in the area of environmental nanoscience,” says ENHS professor and CENR director Jamie Lead, who mentored Baalousha at the University of Birmingham. “He has worked tirelessly over the years to build up his own research program and his international reputation.”
Dr. Turner-McGrievy has the personal and professional qualifications and characteristics to enable her to continue her work as a leader in her field and innovator in public health research.
-Edward Frongillo, HPEB professor
Turner-McGrievy completed a Ph.D. in nutrition and then a postdoctoral fellowship at the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center the University of North Carolina before joining the Arnold School in 2011. Her research, conducted through the Behavioral Research in Eating (BRIE) Lab, focuses on developing ways to help people eat healthier, lose weight and prevent chronic disease—often using emerging technologies, such as social media support, podcasts, and nutrition/physical activity trackers, as tools.
Since arriving at UofSC, the Excellence in Weight Management Outcomes Research Award winner has published more than 73 (87 total during her career) peer-reviewed papers and has been awarded more than $3.5 million in funding. Most recently, Turner-McGrievy and her team secured nearly $3.3 million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. As principal investigator on this project, she will research nutrition-based approaches to reducing heart disease among overweight African Americans in an effort to address cardiovascular disease in this population. As evidence of her growing importance to the field, Turner-McGrievy received the 2017 Early Career Investigator and Early Career Mentorship Awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine and was invited to serve on the National Institute on Aging’s Nutrition Intervention Workshop.
“Dr. Turner-McGrievy has been recognized for her work both nationally and internationally,” says Michael Beets, professor of exercise science and 2016 Breakthrough Star. “This recognition of her leadership and scholarly work in the field of public health highlights that she truly merits her designation as a Breakthrough Star.”
“Dr. Turner-McGrievy has the personal and professional qualifications and characteristics to enable her to continue her work as a leader in her field and innovator in public health research,” says HPEB professor and former chair Edward Frongillo. “She brings consistently high positive regard, caring, and thoughtfulness to her engagement with study participants, colleagues, and collaborators, and she has developed a research trajectory that will enable her to be a successful scientist throughout her career.”
Baalousha and Turner-McGrievy will be featured as 2018 Breakthrough Stars in a special supplement of Breakthrough magazine and honored at the Breakthrough Awards Dinner in the spring.
CENR/ENHS researchers Mohammed Baalousha and Eric Vejerano selected by National Science
Foundation as NSF-EPSCoR Research Fellows
Brie Turner-McGrievy receives nearly $3.3 million NIH grant to reduce heart disease through nutrition-based approach