Rutgers Awards Three EOAS Faculty Members 2023 University-Wide Year End Excellence Awards

From Left to Right: Ashaki Rouff, Erin Vogel, & Grace Saba

By Carol Peters, EOAS Communications

From Left to Right: Ashaki Rouff, Erin Vogel, & Grace Saba
From Left to Right: Ashaki Rouff, Erin Vogel, & Grace Saba

Ashaki Rouff, Grace K. Saba, and Erin Vogel, faculty members at the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, have been awarded 2023 University-Wide Faculty Year-End Excellence Awards by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.  

This year, 29 Rutgers University faculty members received recognition in ten award categories.

The award recipients were announced on Friday, April 27, 2023 in an email Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway shared with the university community.

“Each year these awards honor members of the Rutgers community selected by their colleagues for outstanding contributions to teaching, research, and public service . . . I hope you share our pride in and congratulations for this year’s honorees,” Holloway wrote. 

Rouff, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the P3 Collaboratory, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences–Newark, Rutgers University–Newark, and Vogel, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of Anthropology, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, were awarded  “The Presidential Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award.”

According to the university, “The award honors tenured faculty members whose breadth of academic portfolios reflect outstanding research, scholarship, or creative work, as well as truly outstanding contributions to teaching along with extensive service to the Rutgers community and beyond.”

Rouff explores the behavior of inorganic and organic contaminants in aqueous geochemical (soil, sediment) and engineered (wastewaters) settings. The mechanisms and kinetics of contaminant interactions with mineral phases determine the mobility and bioaccessibility of these species in affected systems. Understanding these processes has important implications for predicting the fate of contaminant species in the environment. Her lab uses laboratory-based model systems, field work, and advanced molecular-scale techniques; as applied to the areas of contaminant geochemistry, urban geochemistry, and sustainable geochemistry. Current research topics include the assessment of heavy metal contamination of human-impacted soils, and the evaluation of alternative mineral fertilizers as related to the sustainable use of natural resources.

Vogel is a biological anthropologist and evolutionary ecologist. Her research is focused on how primates acquire and assimilate food resources, particularly in the face of variable environments. She believes that an integrated understanding of how and why primates feed under varying ecological conditions can be instructive for interpreting the adaptive milestones of human evolution. At its core, Vogel’s research focuses on the question: How does ecological variation influence the feeding behavior, physiology, and morphology of nonhuman primates? Studies of primate feeding adaptations have revealed great variation in primate behavioral, physiological, and morphological strategies to meet energetic needs, but how these adaptations vary in response to changing environmental conditions and their potential impacts on individual health and fitness remain unclear. Within this overall theme, her research activities focus on two main categories of adaptations: 1) the factors that influence diet selection (e.g. nutrition, availability, food competition, morphology); and, 2) the effects of food availability and nutritional intake on the energetic state, health, reproduction, and behavior of wild primates. Her recent and current projects are cross-disciplinary, bridging the fields of biological anthropology, evolutionary biology, physiology, immunology, ecology, animal behavior, and functional morphology.

Saba, Associate Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, was awarded “The Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award.”

According to the university, “The award honors tenured faculty members who have made outstanding synergistic contributions in research and teaching. This award recognizes those who make visible the vital link between teaching and scholarship by contributing to the scholarship of teaching and by bringing together scholarly and classroom activities.”

Saba initiates diverse, multidisciplinary projects in order to address both small-scale (individual organism) and large-scale (whole ecosystem) questions with ecological, physiological, and biogeochemical implications. Her broad research interests are in the fields of coastal marine organismal ecology and physiology, with emphasis on how organisms interact with their environment (physical-biological coupling) and other organisms (food web dynamics and predator-prey interactions), how physiological processes impact biogeochemistry (nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration), and how climate change (i.e., ocean acidification, warming) impacts these processes. She applies multiple techniques and collaborates with physical/biological/chemical oceanographers and physiologists, molecular ecologists, fisheries scientists, ocean observers, and climate modelers. She employs an integrative, mechanistic approach and has strong laboratory and field components in her research.