OPA Travel Awards

Congratulations to our 2022-2023 awardees!

Dr. Kathleen Arrington Headshot

Dr. Kathleen Arrington is a postdoctoral scholar in Agricultural Sciences within Ecosystem Science and Management. She works on two organic agriculture projects related to cover crops (planted in between cash crops to benefit the soil). One project is focused on how cover crops affect soil fertility for corn and the second uses cover crops as part of a biological treatment to reduce pests and pathogens in vegetables. For the first project, Kathleen's role includes testing and refining the biogeochemical model underlying a tool with site-specific nitrogen fertilizer recommendations as well as communicating with farmers to design a useful tool. Her second project team builds on research in organic fruit and vegetable production in Florida to adapt techniques for growers in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Matthew Bahnson Headshot

Dr. Matthew Bahnson is a postdoctoral scholar in Engineering, specifically the Engineering Cognitive Research Laboratory with Dr. Catherine Berdanier. Matthew’s research focuses on postdoctoral mentorship experiences in engineering and computer science and sociocultural inequality in engineering graduate education. He has published in Journal of Engineering Education, Studies in Engineering Education, and International Journal of Engineering Education. His conference participation includes coordinating engineering education sessions at American Educational Researcher Association (AERA) in 2022 and 2023. He also presented papers at American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), and The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD), Frontiers in Education (FIE).

Dr. Manushanker Balasubramanian

Dr. Manushanker Balasubramanian is a postdoctoral scholar in the Computational Electromagnetics and Antennas Research Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering. He works as a researcher under the supervision of Dr. Douglas H. Werner. He has extensive experience in asymptotic methods, a multilevel fast multipole method (MLFMM), and development of ray tracer for scattering and radiation problems. His current research interests include anisotropic media, gradientindex lens design, local and global optimization, and physical optics-based techniques for reflector antenna shaping.

Dr. C. Andrew Conway Headshot

Dr. C. Andrew Conway is a postdoctoral scholar for the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. His research interests focus on the mental health and well-being of Latino immigrant youth and families. He is also interested in Latino immigrant youth’s unique Adverse Childhood Experiences and their impact on mental health. Andrew seeks to move the field beyond thinking of childhood adversity as household dysfunction and towards recognizing the significant influences of social-level factors, including the effects of racism, oppression, and colonization. In 2020, Andrew was named a Research Scholar at the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families.

Dr. Katherine E. Frye Headshot

Dr. Katherine E. Frye is a postdoctoral scholar in the College of Education. Her research interests broadly include social-emotional learning (SEL) assessment and practical application of SEL in schools. She is also interested in researching the intersection of children’s social-emotional development, mental wellbeing, and academic achievement. Her developing research program consists of two interrelated strands: (1) social-emotional and behavioral assessment and (2) conceptual foundations of SEL-related skills and practices. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Contemporary School Psychology and School Psychology Review and presented nationally at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention.

Dr. Vinodh Kumar Headshot

Dr. Vinodh Kumar is a postdoctoral scholar in Neurology for the College of Medicine. His research interests include the neural basis of multisensory integration during speech and language processing. He has performed psychophysical experiments involving the McGurk effect (an auditory illusion) in tandem with electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings to understand how the brain seamlessly integrates visual and auditory information during speech perception. His current research focuses on understanding sound-symbolism, the idea that just the sound of a word can convey its meaning. He uses functional brain imaging techniques and electrophysiological recordings (from patients undergoing epilepsy monitoring) to understand the neural basis of sound-symbolism. His research has implications for speech disorders such as aphasia.

Dr. Hao Liu Headshot

Dr. Hao Liu is a postdoctoral scholar in Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research interests include traffic flow modeling, traffic flow optimization, and connected and autonomous vehicles. He's very interested in transportation research and has five journal publications, including two first-authored papers in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems and one first-authored paper in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.

Dr. Primal Pappachan Headshot

Dr. Primal Pappachan is a postdoctoral scholar in Information Sciences and Technology, where he works with Dr. Anna Squicciarini. Primal's research focuses on data management and privacy, particularly designing and implementing data protection mechanisms. He has published in top-tier venues, including VLDB and SIGSPATIAL, and has received awards to support his postdoctoral work from the Penn State Center for Security Research and Education Seed Grant and the Penn State Center for Socially Responsible AI Collaboration Pilot Funding. In addition to his research, he has served on program committees for conferences and workshops and co-organizes a workshop (ASTRIDE) for ICDE 2023.

Dr. Na Zhang Headshot

Dr. Na Zhang is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Physics. Na’s research focus is on the controlled synthesis, spectroscopic characterization, and application of low-dimensional materials, including the two-dimensional layered materials, quantum confines 2D polar metals, and doped carbon nanotubes.


About the OPA Travel Awards

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs offers a limited number of travel awards of up to $500.00 to support participation in conferences and professional meetings.  Application reviews are conducted by staff and faculty in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research.  Decisions of this review panel will be final. 

Please stay tuned for an announcement in September of 2023 when the application process reopens.

Eligibility for OPA Travel Awards: 

  • The applicant must be a current postdoctoral scholar at Penn State. (*College of Medicine is excluded because they have their own travel award program.)

  • The applicant’s travel must also be during this postdoctoral appointment for reconciliation purposes. 

  • The applicant must provide a statement of support from the current supervisor that includes: 1) explanation of this travel’s relevance to the postdoc’s aspiration, 2) indication of the meeting or conference’s strong reputation within the field, 3) explanation of demonstrated need and/or pre-existing funding source contributing to this travel. 

  • The applicant must be a presenting author. 

Application Instructions: 

  1. Complete the online application form through the InfoReady portal at least three weeks before your date of travel.  (We are not accepting further applications for this academic year, but the process will work the same in the 2023-2024 cycle.)

  1. Upload a PDF of your proof of acceptance to present. 

  1. Upload a PDF of your CV. 

  1. Upload a PDF copy of a message from the current supervisor addressing the components listed in the eligibility criteria. 

  1. Upload a headshot (standard professional and/or action shot in one’s professional field).  Headshots are used in a listing of awardees on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website. 

  1. Upload a short paragraph summarizing career interests and research accomplishments.  Biographical paragraphs are also used in a listing of awardees on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website. 

  1. Upload budget template Excel spreadsheet. 

  1. In the case of international travel, upload a letter from Global Programs indicating your eligibility to travel. 

Process for Accepting the Travel Award: 

  1. Postdocs will be informed about the status of their travel award application via email. Inquiries about the status of the travel award application or any question related to the travel awards can be sent to postdoc@psu.edu

  1. As the travel award is typically a reimbursement to the advisor’s budget or individually to the postdoc, all receipts for the charges incurred during travel must be included in the reimbursement request submitted to their respective department/unit staff person within 30 days of attending the conference. 

  1. Postdocs will inform their department/unit staff person to contact postdoc@psu.edu for confirming the travel award amount and fund number at least one week before the travel date. 

  1. Postdocs who are traveling internationally to their conferences affiliated with Penn State will need to register through the Travel Safety Network (https://tsn.psu.edu/login). Reimbursement cannot be made if the travel is not registered. If you have registered through TSN, indicate that to your staff person while submitting the receipts as it needs to be included for reimbursement.