Created in 2011, these awards recognize the remarkable contributions of postdoctoral research scholars to the UGA research enterprise. The UGA Research Foundation funds up to two awards a year to current scholars.
Alexander Tokarev, a former postdoctoral research associate in the department of textiles merchandising and interiors, is recognized for his role in creating a new, inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. The new method, dubbed “magnetospinning,” provides a very simple, scalable and safe means for producing large quantities of nanofibers that can be embedded in a multitude of materials, including live cells and drugs. Many thousands of times thinner than the average human hair, nanofibers are used by medical researchers to create advanced wound dressings, and for tissue regeneration, drug testing, stem cell therapies and the delivery of drugs directly to the site of infection. Nanofibers are also used in other industries to manufacture fuel cells, batteries, filters and light-emitting screens. Tokarev now works for Sawgrass Technologies, Inc. in Charleston, S.C.
Kevin Vogel, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of entomology, uses comparative genomics and molecular biology to study reproduction and development processes in mosquitoes. Over the last three years, he worked to identify and characterize a hormone receptor that, when silenced, blocked the maturation of mosquito eggs. Vogel hopes that more complete understanding of this important receptor may lead to new ways of controlling mosquito populations. He is also involved in another project, which focuses on characterizing the bacteria that colonize the digestive tract of mosquitoes—the mosquito gut microbiome. Recent studies have demonstrated that mosquitoes are incapable of growing and developing into adults without their gut microbiota, and the microbiome also plays an important role in the survival of the pathogens that mosquitoes transmit.