Three Professors Hailed for Innovative Work

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Katherine Mirica, Luke Chang, and Chenfeng Ke are honored by professional associations.

Professors Mirica, Chang, and Ke were honored by associations.
From left, assistant professors Katherine Mirica, Luke Chang, and Chenfeng Ke. (Photos by Robert Gill) 

Three professors who joined the faculty in the past three years were recently recognized by professional associations for significant work in their fields.

“I am thrilled to see that the outstanding work of these faculty members who are in the early chapters of their careers is being duly recognized,” says Elizabeth Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Their work truly inspires and invigorates our entire academic community.”

The three assistant professors, who joined the Dartmouth faculty at the start of the 2015-2016 academic year, have been recognized by leading academic associations for significant contributions to their fields.

Luke Chang, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences

Assistant Professor Luke Chang seeks to understand how emotions and expectations are represented in the brain and how they affect the way humans make decisions and learn in social contexts. The goal is to better understand the mechanisms of how psychosocial treatments influence mental and physical health, Chang says.

Research through his Computational Social Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, in collaboration with a postdoctoral student and seven graduate students, recently received a 2019 Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science. The award recognizes “new and cutting-edge ideas coming out of the most creative and promising investigators who embody the future of psychological science.”

Chenfeng Ke, assistant professor of chemistry

Assistant Professor Chenfeng Ke focuses on developing smart materials for use in 3D printing, elastic crystalline organic materials for energy and environmental related applications, and carbohydrate receptors for biological applications. The research in the Ke Functional Materials Group overlaps organic synthesis, crystal engineering, polymer synthesis, materials characterization, and 3D printing, with an emphasis on the design of supramolecular materials, he says.

Ke was recently among 12 chemists who received the 2019 Cottrell Scholar Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement. “These awards provide $100,000 to each recipient identified as a leader in integrating science teaching and research at a top U.S. research university or a primarily undergraduate institution,” the Cottrell award committee writes.

Katherine Mirica, assistant professor of chemistry

Assistant Professor Katherine Mirica focuses on global challenges in healthcare and environmental stewardship through innovations in materials chemistry. This experimental strategy emphasizes molecular design and synthesis of responsive materials compatible with the unique demands of low-power, portable, affordable, easy-to-use electronic sensing devices, she says.

An important aspect of research in her Mirica Group lab is a feedback loop between fundamental and applied science, where the fundamental understanding of interactions of small molecules with responsive materials is used, probed, and refined in functional devices, Mirica says.

Mirica is also among the 12 chemists to receive the 2019 Cottrell Scholar Awards from Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Having two assistant professors from the chemistry department recognized by the 2019 Cottrell awards is a great point of distinction for Dartmouth, says colleague Associate Professor of Chemistry Ivan Aprahamian.

William Platt can be reached at

Bill Platt