Vandenbrink wins Thora Halsted Young Investigator Award

Dec 16, 2020 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Research

Dr. Joshua Vandenbrink, Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, was recently given the Thora Halsted Young Investigator Award by the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR). Vandenbrink conducts research on space biology and plant movement in his Louisiana Tech lab.

“Dr. Vandenbrink’s research very well represents the applied and science-based nature of the College of Applied and Natural Sciences (ANS),” said Dr. Gary Kennedy, ANS Dean. “Understanding how plants respond to the space environment allows insight into the behavior of plant genetics, specifically stress response genes. This insight can be beneficial for the production of plants in a microgravity environment, as well as production of plants on Earth.”

The ASGSR established the award in 1994 to honor a young scientist who exemplifies Halstead’s drive and enthusiasm for science, and who has made significant contributions to the field of gravitational and space research. The award is dedicated to Halstead in recognition of the years she spent encouraging young scientists to enter gravitational and space research.

Vandenbrink earned a BS in Biological Science at Western Michigan University and a PhD in Genetics from Clemson University. He studied heliotropism in the lab of Dr. Ben Blackman at the University of Virginia. Then, he began work in space biology at the University of Mississippi lab of Dr. John Kiss.

“Dr. Vandenbrink joined our faculty in the School of Biological Sciences at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year, and he brought to our School his experience and an expertise in space biology that we did not possess on our campus,” said Dr. William Campbell, Director of the School of Biological Sciences. “Josh is an enthusiastic and talented faculty member who engages with his students and is developing an exciting research program at Louisiana Tech.  We are proud of his achievements and congratulate him on receiving this recognition.”

Last spring, Vandenbrink and his collaborators received the NASA Group Achievement Award for their work on the seedling growth series of experiments conducted on the International Space Station. This award is for an outstanding group accomplishment that has contributed substantially to NASA’s mission.