Researchers in biology, education and engineering receive recognition for exceptional scholarly achievement

From left are Marcia Gentry, Jay Gore and Zhao-Qing Luo.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Three Purdue professors whose research has profoundly influenced and advanced their fields have been chosen to receive the university’s most prestigious research and scholarship awards. Their accomplishments will be celebrated at the annual Excellence in Research Awards ceremony at 3 p.m., April 6, at the Purdue Memorial Union.

The event also will feature three lectures highlighting the research being recognized. Register to attend the lectures here.

Marcia Gentry, recipient of the 2022 Lu Ann Aday Award

Marcia Gentry is being honored posthumously with the Lu Ann Aday Award. She was a professor of gifted, talented, and creative studies in the Department of Educational Studies and executive director of the Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I) within the College of Education. She passed away in August 2022.

Gentry, who peers characterize as an “accomplished, engaged and impactful scholar,” created a groundbreaking tool for teachers nationwide called the HOPE Scale, which identifies multiple academic and social components of giftedness and talent in elementary-aged students. The scale’s various measures, widely regarded as pioneering, are seen as critical in the effort to overcome longstanding cultural, economic and linguistic inequities in identifying gifted students.

Most recently, Gentry contributed to what colleagues refer to as the most comprehensive report ever done on representation in gifted programs by race, income and location, using census data from 2000, 2012, 2014 and 2016. It provided a detailed report card for every state, citing inequities for students of color and students attending schools in poor neighborhoods. It also outlined practical recommendations for dealing with verifiable calls of elitism, classism, racism and segregation.

Gentry frequently received recognition for high achievement during her 18 years at Purdue. She was given an Outstanding Faculty Engagement Award in 2018, an Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award in 2019 and the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship in both 2012 and 2020. She also received national awards from professional organizations such as the National Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC) Distinguished Scholar Award and its Palmarium Award, which is given to an individual “most exemplifying the vision of a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced and systematically nurtured throughout the nation and the world.”

In 2021, she received the Legacy Scholar Award from the NAGC Conceptual Foundations Network, and in 2022 she received the NAGC President’s Award for pioneering and continued leadership in the field of gifted education. Her work also was frequently cited in prominent media outlets such as the Houston Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, U.S. News and World Report, and Education Week.

A lecture, “The legacy of Marcia Gentry: excellence, equity and talent development,” will be given by Gentry’s colleagues, Nielsen Pereira, associate professor of educational studies and interim co-director of GER2I, and Kristen Seward, clinical associate professor of educational studies and fellow GER2I interim co-director.

The Lu Ann Aday Award was established in 2017 by Purdue alumna Lu Ann Aday, the Lorne D. Bain Distinguished Professor Emerita in Public Health and Medicine at the University of Texas School of Public Health Houston. It annually recognizes a member of the Purdue faculty who has made a major impact in the humanities and social sciences. Recipients are nominated by colleagues, recommended by a faculty committee and named by the university president.

Jay Gore, recipient of the Arden L. Bement Jr. Award

Jay Gore, the Reilly University Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been chosen to receive the Arden L. Bement Jr. Award for highly significant and impactful contributions to big data, artificial neural networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence in physics-based models of energy.

Gore was the founding director of the Energy Center in Purdue’s former Discovery Park and formerly served as associate dean for research and entrepreneurship at Purdue. He also founded the award-winning Purdue Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships program in 2002. Beyond Purdue, he previously served as the founding vice chancellor and strategic advisor for the Maharashtra Institute of Technology World Peace University in Pune, India, and currently serves as its global ambassador.

Among myriad results of his extensive work is the prediction of lean blowouts — a type of engine combustion instability — in conventional and bio-fueled aviation gas turbine engines. He also is widely recognized for highly significant work to maximize efficiency and minimize carbon dioxide emissions of coal-burning power plants.

Katepalli Raju Sreenivasan, founding dean of the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, who wrote a letter in support of Gore’s nomination, pointed to Gore’s recent work in big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence as applied to challenges in turbulent combustion and energy, saying, “I regard that professor Gore’s recent work is eminently suitable for this high recognition.”

Anantha Narayanan, a data scientist with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, has been working with Gore to understand the effects of cycling — operating coal power plants at varying capacities below the design capacity on their efficiency and health — and quantifying the resulting costs. He said, “Professor Gore brought in new ideas of implementing exergetic analysis under transient conditions, which in the past has only been applied to steady-state conditions. He coupled this with a strategy to develop a data-driven model that is easier to deploy and performs better on plant computing equipment. This novel approach allows a robust model for cost estimation to be deployed under realistic plant conditions.”

Gore says he plans to continue to address grand societal challenges with his work, emphasizing one primary challenge: “My hope is that we as a human society will address the climate change problem, which is a real. I also hope to continue to contribute to our society by addressing that challenge.”

Recognized often for his research excellence, Gore has received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Best Paper of the year in Heat Transfer Research Award and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Best Paper of the Year in Propulsion Award. He is a fellow of both the AIAA and the ASME, as well as the Combustion Institute (International). He also received the Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991.

Gore earned both his master’s and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and completed his post-doctoral education at the University of Michigan.

Gore will speak about “Big data, artificial neural networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence,” during the celebration’s lectures.

The Arden L. Bement Jr. Award was established in 2015 by Distinguished Professor Emeritus Arden Bement and his wife Louise Bement to annually recognize a Purdue faculty member for recent outstanding accomplishments in pure and applied sciences and engineering. Winners of the Bement Award are nominated by colleagues, recommended by a faculty committee and named by the university president.

Zhao-Qing Luo, recipient of the 2022 Herbert Newby McCoy Award

A globally recognized microbiologist, Zhao-Qing Luo, professor of biological sciences, is receiving the 2022 Herbert Newby McCoy Award for his critical work to combat infectious diseases. Luo’s research is helping explain how microbial pathogens survive and multiply within hostile host cells, as well as how host cells respond to infection. He is using Legionella, which causes Legionnaires disease, as a model organism. The bacterium has a secretion system that injects about 300 virulence proteins into host cells to enable its replication.

“One focus of our research is to determine the function of these proteins and their roles in bacterial infection,” Luo says. “A better understanding of the mechanism of virulence factors will lay the foundation for the development of novel anti-infection strategies. Equally important, these proteins can be used as effective research tools to understand the signal transduction pathways in host cells that are extremely difficult or even impossible to study under normal physiological conditions.” Transduction pathways are the communication networks within cells that enable them to respond to signals from their environment or other cells.

Luo’s lab also is focused on explaining the signaling pathway mechanism involved in immune cell detection of and response to damage and disruption caused by bacterial infection.

 “Dr. Luo’s work is innovative, rigorous and transformative,” said Zhijian Chen, the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas, who wrote a letter in support of Luo’s nomination. “His discovery of a completely new mechanism of ubiquitination has a very large impact in the fields of ubiquitin biology and host-pathogen interactions.”

Luo received the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Independent Scientist Award in 2010 through 2015. He also was named a Purdue University Faculty Scholar in 2012, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2019. He has authored over 100 scientific publications and has served on the editorial boards of PLoS Pathogens, EMBO reports and mLife.

Luo received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant pathology from China Agricultural University. He then went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying bacterial genetics and molecular biology, receiving his PhD in microbiology in 2001. He joined the Purdue faculty in 2004 and became a full professor in 2015.

As part of the celebration event, Luo will give a lecture titled, “Turning hostility into a home: means by a bacterial pathogen.”

The Herbert Newby McCoy Award was established in 1964 by Ethel Terry McCoy in honor of her husband, a distinguished Purdue University alumnus. Winners of the McCoy Award are nominated by colleagues, recommended by a faculty committee and named by the university president.

Purdue’s annual awards honoring research excellence

Recipients of the Aday, Bement and McCoy awards for research excellence are nominated by colleagues, recommended by a faculty committee and approved by the executive vice president for research and the president of the university. The 2022 recipients will receive a cash prize and a small grant for their university scholarly activities.

The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research will honor the selected recipients during the April 6 ceremony. The event also will recognize the Academic Research Awards, the Morrill Award and Sigma Xi awards, among others.

Writer: Amy Raley,