ADVANCE Spotlight

The UNH ADVANCE Spotlight highlights the achievements of UNH ADVANCE affiliated faculty and UNH women faculty. Groundbreaking work, grants, awards and expertise all play into the decision to spotlight a certain faculty member, with the goal of showing the very best of what UNH has to offer.  Check the UNH ADVANCE homepage for the newest Spotlight.



Yaning Li, Ph.D.Yaning Li, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to support her work with a new family of honeycomb-like, auxetic chiral composites. Li’s work utilizes new advances in 3D printing, allowing her to create and conduct experiments on the material, which can flex and stretch as well as absorb energy.  In addition to the research applications for this grant, Li plans to use a substantial portion of the funding to further educational opportunities and outreach at UNH. She wants to provide in-lab learning situations for students, inclusive of K-12 students through graduate students.  Li is one of three UNH Assistant professors, and the sole UNH woman to be awarded this prestigious grant in this funding cycle.


Ruth Varner, Ph.D.Ruth Varner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biogeochemistry with a joint appointment in Earth Science and EOS, was recently honored by the American Geophysical Union with the 2015 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award recognizes her more than fifteen years as a dedicated teacher and mentor, highlighting her development of a model of “cascade mentoring” in collaboration with colleagues at Mount Holyoke College and Stockholm University. Dr. Varner is also the Director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education here at UNH. She is a UNH ADVANCE Faculty Fellow, co-chairing the Career Progression committee, which is focused on clarifying and improving the promotion and tenure process at UNH, as well as a member of the UNH ADVANCE internal steering committee.  Dr. Varner served as the Program Director for the previous NSF – funded ADVANCE PAID grant and was instrumental in the development of the proposal that led to the current UNH ADVANCE program.



Vicki Banyard, Ph.D.Vicki Banyard, Ph.D, professor of Psychology with an affiliation with the Justice Studies Program, is the UNH ADVANCE Faculty Fellow leading the ADVANCE social science research study including the development and analysis of the UNH Faculty Climate Survey. She is also a research and evaluation consultant with Prevention Innovations. Due to her extensive experience in this field, she was recently given a position with the United States Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women to do research and evaluation with their Campus Grants Program which aims to end sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking.



Margaret Greenslade, Ph.D.Margaret Greenslade, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Physical and Atmospheric Chemistry and a UNH ADVANCE Faculty Career Advancement Initiative faculty fellow. Her focus with ADVANCE is the Pathways to Tenure program, which is part of the ADVANCE Career Success initiative and is geared toward mentoring and faculty development. At the inaugural Pathways to Tenure event in the Spring of 2015 semester, Dr. Greenslade acted as both the moderator for a department chair panel and a breakout-group discussion leader making her an integral part of the program. In addition to her work with ADVANCE, Dr. Greenslade was recently awarded a NSF S-STEM award, in collaboration with Dr. Sam Pazicni and Dr. Victor Benassi, to support the transfer of community college students to the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS). This grant is intended to improve the alignment between community colleges and four-year institutions and increase the number of STEM graduates.



Nancy Kinner, Ph.D.Nancy Kinner, Ph.D., is the Director of the UNH Costal Response Research Center and Center for Spills in the Environment and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  She also holds the position of Chair of the UNH ADVANCE Internal Steering Committee.  In this role, Dr. Kinner acts as an advisor to the UNH ADVANCE program as well as a liaison to the broader UNH community, raising awareness about the program’s goals and initiatives.  Dr. Kinner is highly sought-after expert on the impact of oil spills on the environment.  She was tapped by the media for commentary on the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 and recently organized an Oil Spill Response Forum looking at the past and future of oil spill response, which was featured in UNH Today.  In keeping with her mission to improve oil spill response Dr. Kinner and her students work with a laboratory oil flume to find out what happens to spilled oil on the bottom of a body of water.



Erin Bell, Ph.D.Erin Bell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of the UNH Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.  Dr. Bell is the Primary Investigator on the Living Bridge Project, which is working to create smart, sustainable, user-centered transportation infrastructure. Known as the Bridge Doctor, Dr. Bell aims to transform the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME into a “smart bridge:” a self-diagnosing and self-reporting, renewable, tidal energy powered replacement for the original 1923 bridge over the Piscataqua river. Dr. Bell’s Living Bridge Project was recently covered in the Portland Press Herald, highlighting the innovations of the project.




Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D.Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D., is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Principle Investigator of the NSF funded Infrastructure and Climate Network. (ICNet), which was highlighted in the UNH Campus journal at it’s inception. She recently received the inaugural UNH ADVANCE Visiting STEM Women Faculty award supporting her collaboration with Dr. Erin Bell of UNH and Dr. Natacha Thomas of the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Jacobs is helping to bring together the climate change community with the engineering community to provide a farsighted approach to infrastructure.