University Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity for Early-Career Faculty

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Congratulations to Dr. Robert Crawford, the 2017-18 Recipient of the University Award for Early-Career Faculty!

The Research & Creative Activity (RCA) Subcommittee invites applications each year for the University Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity for Early-Career Faculty (formerly the President’s Award). This award was established in 1989 and is given each year to recognize a colleague who has made significant contributions to their discipline through scholarly activity, research and publication, or creative and artistic endeavors. The award includes a professional development grant of $2,500 and three units of release time from the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

Faculty who are eligible for the award must be tenured or tenure-track faculty within the first ten years of their appointment and three of the past five years must have been spent at Sacramento State. 

2017-18 Awardee: Dr. Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford, Recipient of the 17-18 University Award for Early-Career Faculty

The University Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity for Early-Career Faculty was established in 1989 and is given to a Sacramento State faculty member who is in the first ten years of their faculty appointment. The purpose of this annual award is to recognize the faculty recipient's extraordinary research and creative activity endeavors. This year's recipient is Dr. Robert Crawford, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Crawford is the 29th recipient of this award.

Lecture Title: Tales from the Microbe-Host Interface

Lecture Abstract: Human beings are nothing more than glorified food bags for microscopic inhabitants and the interplay between microbe and host toward health and disease remains poorly characterized.

To that end, the Crawford lab works toward elucidating cellular and molecular mechanisms by which skin and gut-associated bacterial species of the human microbiome mediate persistence and antibiotic resistance and, in turn, how microbial metabolites alter host biology including inflammation and lipid production. A better understanding of these pathways promises to enhance progress toward developing novel non-antibiotic therapeutic approaches included pre- and pro-biotics.

Biography: Dr. Robert Crawford grew up in Northeast Ohio and is proud to call that area of the country his native land. To this day, he speaks excitedly of lessons learned while slinging burgers at McDonald’s, waiting tables at Joe’s Crab Shack, and conversing with his grandma while cooking and playing Scrabble (he lost every time). These experiences provided critical preparation for taking his talents to the Ohio State University in Columbus where he completed the popular double major of French Literature and Biology. His favorite on-campus job was serving as a tour guide and in that role, he realized that he enjoyed teaching. 

This backdrop led Crawford to an extended stay in Hiroshima, Japan, where he spent time teaching conversational English and volunteering in a research lab. It was this time in Japan that opened his eyes to the global community and, in the absence of phone, internet, television, or the ability to read street signs, forced introspection toward the meaning of his own life. Although understanding that meaning is still a work in progress, he realized that the next steps would have to focus on working in the field of science. 

He then returned to Ohio and had the unspeakably great fortune of being hired by Dr. John Gunn (who, coincidentally, had visited the same McDonald’s where Crawford once worked). From there he received PhD training with Gunn at Ohio State studying interactions within bacterial communities and conducted postdoctoral research with Dr. Andreas Bäumler at UC Davis investigating the evolution of bacterial virulence and the associated host response. Crawford reveres the professional and personal lessons taught by these mentors. They are among the most influential and inspiring people in his life, serving not only as science coaches, but also father figures – true heroes. Crawford still pinches himself as if it was all a dream, truly grateful that they took a chance on some kid from Northeast Ohio. 

Now, at Sacramento State, Crawford makes it his persistent goal to honor the field of medical microbiology and pay forward the gifts of his life’s tutelage by providing undergraduate and master’s-level research. He has added to the culture of research on campus in remarkable ways. In his four years at Sacramento State, he has created an innovative and wellfunded research program that is also an important medium for training undergraduate and graduate students in laboratory techniques and ensures that students have the opportunity to disseminate their work in some capacity, either at University-wide, local, regional or national conferences.

Within the last year, he has worked with twenty-nine students (both graduate and undergraduate) and at any given time he has 15-20 students involved in his research program. Many of these students have gone on to successful careers either in the biotechnology or medical laboratory industry or into a graduate program focused on research. His support of students is unwavering; Crawford believes that his students inspire and teach him more than vice versa. 

In addition to supporting student research, Dr. Crawford is actively engaged in 11 different research projects focused on microbiomes of the gut and skin, and the impact of these microbiomes on human health. He has received over half a million dollars in external funding, receiving donations and contracts for innovative work that has implications in the biotechnology industry. He has published four papers in top-notch peer-reviewed journals and currently has two papers in the peer review process, most of which have Sacramento State students as authors. 

Crawford has developed active collaborations with faculty both on the Sacramento State campus and at other institutions. His research funding has facilitated investigating of cross-talk pathways between lipids and bacterial species of the skin microbiome, a research agenda requiring buy-in from physicians at UC Davis, which has led to a very successful collaboration with the possibility of subsequent funding. He is actively applying for several new grant proposals, with most of them being collaborative projects.

Crawford sees Sacramento State as a place where energy and optimism translate to hope and progress and where support from colleagues comes without hesitation. He is grateful to serve the Green Hornet Army and looks forward to continued opportunities to learn and innovate while paying forward the opportunities afforded him. Stingers up!

Past Award Recipients

2016-2017

Brendan Lindsay, History
Founding the Murder State: Genocide in Gold Rush-Era California
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2015-2016

Nikolaos Lazaridis, History
Daring the desert: ancient travelers and their graffiti in Kharga Oasis, Egypt
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2014-2015

Caroline Turner, Education
Lessons from the Field: Cultivating nurturing environments in Higher Education
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2013-2014

Rebecca Kluchin, History
Pregnancy and Personhood: The Maternal-Fetal Relationship in American Society, 1850-Present
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2012-2013

Ben Fell, Civil Engineering
Towards Seismically Resilient Homes with Increased Life-Cycle Performance
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2011-2012

Vassili Sergan, Physics and Astronomy
Liquid Crystal Science at Sacramento State: From Basics to Applications
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2010-2011

Katherine McReynolds, Chemistry
How Sweet It Is: Perspectives on the Importance of Carbohydrates in Biochemistry, Medicine and the Mainstream
Lecture Abstract and Biography

2009-2010

Janusz Prajs, Mathematics and Statistics
The Nature of Mathematical Discovery

2008-2009

Charles Postel, History
The Progressive Legacy in Light of the Financial Meltdown

 

 

2007-2008

Joshua McKinney, English
Pen and Sword in Accord: a Poetics

2006-2007

Ali Porbaha, Civil Engineering
Innovative Technologies to Accelerate Geoconstruction

2005-2006

Ted Lascher, Public Policy and Administration
How California Became a ‘Blue State’: Trends in Ethnicity, Ideology, and Political Party Identification

2004-2005

Craig Gallet, Economics
The Efficacy of Public Policy: An Application to the Cigarette Industry

2003-2004

Douglas Rice, English
The Poetics of Reverie: Stains of Desire Marking Absence

2002-2003

Cindy Colinge, Electrical and Electronic Engineering
The Evolution of the Semiconductor Industry

and

Kimo Ah Yun, Communication Studies
Using Organ Donation Research to Save Lives

2001-2002

Randy L. Phelps, Physics and Astronomy
Astronomy from the Andes Mountains of Chile

2000-2001

Robert Wassmer, Public Policy and Administration
An Economist’s Perspective on Urban Sprawl in California

1999-2000

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, History
Traditions From Home: Blues Clubs, Blues Music and the Black Community in Richmond, California

1998-1999

Christopher J. Castaneda, History
Gas Barons and Gas Dogs: Animating the History of an Invisible Fuel

 

1997-1998

Laurel Zucker, Music
Flute Talk: Musical Literacies

1996-1997

No award given

1995-1996

Doraiswamy Ramachandran, Mathematics and Statistics
Quest for Perfection or Search for Optimality: Duality Theory for Marginal Problems

1994-1995

Arthur H. Williamson, History
Images of Blood: Ethnic Identity and the Destruction of the Left in Europe and America, 1972-1992

1993-1994

Troy Armstrong, Criminal Justice
Prospects for Revitalizing Juvenile Justice in the 21st Century: The Role of Applied Research

1992-1993

Tien-I Liu, Mechanical Engineering
Intelligent Manufacturing: A Novel Way to Achieve World Class Manufacturing

1991-1992

Rory Cooper, Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Persons with Disabilities: A Research Agenda

1990-1991

Janelle Reinelt, Theatre Arts
The Politics of Performance: Theatrical Representation as Social Practice

1989-1990

Tony Platt, Social Work
Racism in Academia: Lessons from the Life of E. Franklin Frazier