Auburn University Faculty Awards

Auburn University Faculty Awards

2015-16 Provost Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship

Recognizes sustained efforts to promote excellence in undergraduate scholarship through research.

Portrait photograph of Leonardo De La Fuente

Leonardo De La Fuente, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture

PhD, Plant Pathology; 2005 – Washington State University
MS, Microbiology; 2000 – University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay
BS, Biochemistry; 1996 – University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay

“It is great that the provost is recognizing this work with undergrads in our department. Since we do not have an undergraduate program, it has been hard to attract students to my program. I hope this will help Auburn University pay more attention to interdisciplinary research and break the barriers across colleges that sometimes interfere in supporting undergraduate research.”

Leonardo De La Fuente was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he attended public primary and secondary school and then enrolled at the University of the Republic as the first generation of biochemists of his country. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1996 in biochemistry, and later his master’s degree in microbiology in 2000. From 1993 until 2001, he conducted research at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable. In 2001, he immigrated to the United States to pursue his doctoral degree in plant pathology at Washington State University. He was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University in 2008 and was granted tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2014. His research has been published in more than 45 scientific manuscripts and book chapters. He and his wife, Kristen De La Fuente, have one son, Marko.

Portrait photograph of Elizabeth A. Lipke

Elizabeth A. Lipke, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

PhD, Chemical Engineering; 2005 – Rice University
BS, Biomedical Engineering; 2000 – Johns Hopkins University

“My proudest moments have been watching my students and children achieve their goals. There is nothing more rewarding than being a part of that journey.”

Elizabeth Lipke is the Mary and John H. Sanders Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Lipke’s research focuses on the use of cell-material interactions to guide tissue formation and direct cellular function. To better understand heart defect formation and advance cardiac regeneration, her research group employs biomimetic materials to direct stem cell differentiation and create engineered, developing human heart tissues. Lipke’s research group also designs materials for capture of circulating endothelial progenitor cells that are important in blood vessel repair. To support cancer research, the Lipke lab is creating tissue-engineered tumor models that reproduce native tumor characteristics for improved drug testing. In recognition of her research, she has received several national awards including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a 3M Nontenured Faculty Award, and an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant. In addition to the recognition of her research accomplishments, Lipke has received awards for teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students. She and her husband, Chris Valeri, have two sons: Christopher Allen and Andrew James Valeri.