Two UNC faculty members named Beckman Young Investigators

April 16, 2008 — Two up and coming UNC faculty members have been honored with Beckman Young Investigator Awards for their work on the cutting edge of chemical and life sciences research.

Steve Rogers, an assistant professor in biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Zefeng Wang, an assistant professor in the pharmacology department in the School of Medicine, received the awards from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

The pair are among 16 recipients of this year’s Beckman Young Investigator Awards, which support the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of academic careers in the chemical and life sciences.

To be considered for the award, researchers’ projects must show promise for contributing to significant advances, and represent innovative departures in research rather than extensions or expansions of existing programs. Proposed research that cuts across traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines is encouraged.

Rogers has been teaching at UNC since 2004. His lab focuses on how cells divide, crawl and regulate their shapes. The Beckman Award will allow Rogers and colleagues to develop tools to identify all of the molecules involved in cellular contraction – a process required to produce the forces that shape embryonic tissues during early development and for tissue remodeling during wound healing. He also holds appointments in the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Wang, who came to UNC in 2007, is looking at cell splicing – the process in which different parts of a gene are rearranged in different ways to generate different versions of themselves – to determine how splicing is regulated in cells, with the aim of designing novel therapeutics to treat splicing-related human diseases.

Both Rogers and Wang will receive $300,000 over three years to support their projects.

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093,
School of Medicine contact: Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047,
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596,