Travel Awards Program

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs  has created the travel award program for postdocs to support their professional development during their postdoc training at Penn State. Since 2010, several postdocs across the University Park campus have taken advantage of the travel award program.  The fund is intended to assist postdoctoral scholars who have been selected to present results from their research at professional meetings and conferences. If a postdoc is seeking funds to supplement travel to a research collaboration site, project evaluation or professional development not directly related to presenting their research, they should email for more information. 


These are some of the past award winners for 2018.

Dr. Lydia Hardie


Lydia Hardie studies the genetics of dairy cattle.  Her current focus is on the genetics of health in organic dairy cows.  Through her research, she aims to provide organic dairy farmers with tools to select healthier and more efficient cows for their farms and increase the understanding of genotype by environment interactions in the dairy industry.


Dr. Israel Silber


Israel Silber studies the microphysical processes inside Antarctic clouds, as well as the cloud impact on the surface energy budget. 

Related Links:


Dr. Nicolás Sacco

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Nicolás Sacco is a Postdoctoral Scholar at The Population Research Institute and serves as Program Coordinator of the Masters of Professional Studies in Applied Demography, at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State. His research focuses broadly on the interconnections between fertility/mortality and inequality, and census data evaluation in Latin America. His current research agenda involves a number of studies: one is focused on small area estimation of mortality and is based at the Latin American Human Mortality Database. Two others analyze social inequality related to past and recent trends and future uncertainties of fertility in Latin America

Related Links: nsacco.com


Dr. Asad Mughal 

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Asad J. Mughal's research is focused on the development of large area 2D materials for microelectronics devices, GeTe-based materials for RF switches, and contacts to GaN-based devices.

Related Links:,  


Dr. Rong Ma


Rong Ma is interested in the mechanistic basis of behavioral plasticity, especially in the contexts of evolution and social behavior. With colleagues in the Grozinger and Rasgon labs, he is developing novel methods to apply CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to diverse arthropods. They will use these methods to better understand the evolution of pheromone communication and reproductive division of labor in social insects.
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Dr. Barbara Baraibar


Barbara Baraibar is a post-doctoral scholar in the Weed and Plant Ecology lab and studies how to manage weeds with cover crops and through ecological processes like weed seed predation and weed seed decay.

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These are the past award winners for the years 2016-2017.


Dr. Weston Eaton

Weston M. Eaton is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education (AESE) Department at Penn State. His dissertation examined renewable energy technology development from the perspective of people living in communities where bioenergy facilities were proposed for development. A key part of this research explored how communities construct cultural resources around previous and ongoing extractive and industrial development and draw on these resources when making sense of and responding to new technological projects. As a postdoctoral researcher with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), Wes partnered with Extension professionals to develop resources intended to improve university-public engagement around emergent, complex, and contested science and technologies. A next step is to extend existing and develop new partnerships in order to apply the resources developed with the NCRCRD. As a postdoctoral research associate at Penn State, his research focuses on efforts to expand the emerging bioeconomy in the Northeast USA.

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Dr. Hui Yang

Solid-state NMR spectroscopy has been one of the most important tools to study the polymorphic structures of cellulose as well as the interactions between cellulose and other macromolecules in plant cell walls. However, due to the complicated nature of plant cell walls, the linkage between the molecular structures of cellulose and its solid-state NMR spectrum is still missing. Hui Yang is interested in unravelling this linkage between using computational methods, such as Density Functional Theory (DFT) methods, and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations.

Dr. Cherisse Du Preez

Cherisse Du Preez is a postdoctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University working in Dr. Charles Fisher’s laboratory. Cherisse is studying the ecology of the hydrothermal vents in the Lau Basin, Pacific Ocean (due north of Tonga). She uses two- and three-dimensional imaging to study the fine-scale spatial distribution of vent animals in response to physical and chemical environmental conditions.

Dr. Hamed Simchi

Hamed Simchi’s research is focused on development of large area 2D materials for microelectronics devices, GeTe-based materials for RF switches, and MnO compounds for fuel cells catalysts.

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Dr. Patricia E. Roman

Patricia E. Roman studies the mental and cerebral processes involved in speaking and understanding a second language in bilinguals and learners of a second language. Her most current research deals with the factors that predict high proficiency in bilinguals and the development of related activities to improve second language learning.

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Dr. Raghav Poudyal

Raghav Poudyal is broadly interested in RNA biochemistry, artificial cells, origins of life, test-tube evolution of biomolecules and synthetic biology.

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Dr. William J. Horton

William J. Horton’s primary interest is in the genetic, molecular and behavioral underpinnings of circadian rhythms and sleep. Receiving this travel award has allowed him to present some work on the effect of light exposure on human cognition, especially as it relates to mother/child interactions and the potential for poor parenting decisions & child maltreatment.

Dr. Paolo Margaria

Molecular and cellular biology of the interactions between obligate plant pathogens (viruses and phytoplasmas) and their hosts. Specifically, the research at PSU (Dr. Rosa laboratory, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology) was focused on the characterization of plant ourmiaviruses defective in movement and on the sub-cellular localization of the viral movement protein in the host cell.

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Dr. Marzia Angela Cremona

Marzia Angela Cremona works with development and generalization of statistical techniques (in particular of Functional Data Analysis techniques) to be applied to genomic and epigenomic datasets relevant to the study of regional variation in mutation processes and features characterizing the genome.

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Dr. Yin-Ting Yeh

Yin-Ting Yeh studies the applications of Nanomaterials in infectious disease studies.

Dr. Elisabeth M. Whyte

Elisabeth M. Whyte is interested in how children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders learn social and communicative information. In addition, she seeks to measure the effectiveness of autism interventions designed to improve social and communication skills.

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Dr. Eric C. Yip

Eric C. Yip is interested in intraspecific cooperation and conflict in both social and sexual contexts. He has previously studied the costs and benefits of group living in spiders, as well as the effects of sexual cannibalism on mate choice. His current research examines sexual behavior in the goldenrod gall fly and how its host plant, a voyeur of fly sex pheromone, influences sexual selection. This work has also led to the exploration of plant defense and its broader impacts on the goldenrod population and community.

Dr. Allison Baczynski

Allison Bacynski is interested in periods of climate change that took place in Earth’s past in an effort to better understand what might happen in the future as a result of human-induced climate change. In particular, she studies the effects of climate change on carbon that is stored in soils. One of the major questions today is whether soils are a source or sink for carbon and how they will react to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Currently at Penn State she is developing a new generation of instrumentation for stable isotope analyses that will help us answer this critical question.

Dr. Laurel Pearson

Laurel Pearson’s research focuses on human population genetics and human variation, with a particular interest in the genetic and environmental contributions to complex disease and health disparities.

Dr. Neil Kuanhsun Huang


Researcher in the College of Health and Human Services within the Department of Nutritional Health.

Dr. Diwakar Bastihalli Tukaramrao

Researcher in the College of Agricultural Sciences within the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.