Isis Kanevsky-Mullarky, an associate professor of dairy science in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been honored by the White House as one of the 2013 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Barack Obama said in a press release. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

Kanevsky-Mullarky is one of 102 recipients of the 2013 awards and one of three funded by the Department of Agriculture. Raffaella De Vita, an associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, is also one of the award recipients announced in December. The winners will be recognized at an upcoming ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“To say I’m thrilled to receive this award doesn't do my feelings justice,” said Kanevsky-Mullarky, who is an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Science Institute. “Not only are there few scientists in agriculture that receive this prestigious award, the number of women is even fewer. It is a great honor to serve as a representative of my department and university as a recipient.”

Kanevsky-Mullarky’s research centers on enhancing the immune response to Staphylococcus aureus infections, identifying biomarkers and vaccine targets, and delineating immune system development in the neonate. She currently teaches mammary immunology, mentors both master's and doctoral students, and serves as chair of the graduate committee.

“We are constantly impressed by Isis’ dedication and curiosity concerning her research,” said Mike Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science. “Her work has a very meaningful impact that benefits the dairy industry.”

Staphylococcus aureus infections make up a portion of the overall mastitis infections that cost the U.S. dairy industry about $2 billion annually, or 11 percent of the value of total milk production.

Kanevsky-Mullarky received her Ph.D. in pathobiology and immunology at Penn State in 2003, her master’s degree in biological and animal sciences at the University of Vermont in 1998, and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont in 1996. For three years prior to accepting a faculty position at Virginia Tech she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Trudeau Institute, an independent, nonprofit, biomedical research organization.

In 2013, Kanevsky-Mullarky received the prestigious American Dairy Science Association Foundation Scholar Award that recognizes young scholars for exemplary research and/or educational programs that include instruction, extension, or industry and their potential for future leadership. Kanevsky-Mullarky delivered an address at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind., in July. She also received an American Association of Immunologists Laboratory Travel Grant in 2013 that allowed both she and a graduate student to attend the organization’s centennial meeting in Hawaii.

“The continued support that Virginia Tech provides the Department of Dairy Science is reflected in my research and accomplishments,” said Kanevsky-Mullarky. “An accessible dairy herd, support staff committed to research, and talented graduate students and faculty all create a productive and innovative environment.”



Written by Thea Glidden and Amy Loeffler.
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