UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Four University of Richmond faculty, the most in UR’s history, have received Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust grants to support their research in chemical, medical, or other scientific fields. The faculty recipients, who will each receive a $104,500 grant, include:

  • Biology professor Kristine Grayson
  • Chemistry professor Michael Norris
  • Computer science professor Joonsuk Park
  • Biology professor Dan Pierce

The Jeffress Trust awards support high impact, innovative one-year projects that integrate computational and quantitative scientific methodologies across a broad range of scientific disciplines.

Kristine L. Grayson, associate professor of biology, is receiving support for her ongoing research on the impacts of invasive species using the gypsy moth invasion in Eastern North America to improve predictive maps and develop a spread forecasting system.

With his award, Michael Norris, assistant professor of chemistry, will continue his research on using carbon dioxide to create useful fuels as part of a solution to the current global energy crisis. 

Joonsuk Park, assistant professor of computer science, is receiving support for research focused on improving online product reviews.

With his grant, B. Daniel Pierce will advance his research on a bacterium that causes tumors in plants and destroys billions of dollars of crops each year. Pierce hopes to create a tool that will allow scientists to replicate the method of infection to bioengineer plants with new genes.

Each award includes varied support for undergraduate researchers, additional research team members, as well as supplies, equipment, and travel expenses.

12 University of Richmond faculty have received Jeffress Trust awards since 2013.


Jeffress Trust Awards At-A-Glance

  • Kristine L. Grayson, associate professor of biology, received support for her research project, “Forecasting the Spread of an Invasive Forest Pest.”
  • Michael Norris, assistant professor of chemistry, received an award for his research project, “Understanding the Reduction of CO2 to Methanol Catalyzed by Simple Amines with a Combined Computational and Experimental Approach.”
  • Joonsuk Park, assistant professor of computer science, has received support for his research project, “Understanding the Impact of Argumentative Structures on Helpfulness of Online Product Reviews.”
  • Daniel Pierce, assistant professor of biology, has received an award for his research project, “Determining the Precise Molecular Interactions Between Plant Phenols and the Agrobacterium Receptor VirA.”

UR Jeffress Recipients

2020: Kristine Grayson (Biology); Joonsuk Park (Computer Science); Dan Pierce (Biology); Michael Norris (Chemistry)

2019: Prakteek Bhakta (Computer Science)

2018: Miles Johnson (Chemistry)

2017: Julie Pollock (Chemistry); Jory Brinkerhoff (Biology)

2016: Christine Helms (Physics); Kristine Grayson (Biology)

2015: Angie Hilliker (Biology)

2013: Eugene Wu (Biology)

Associate Professor of Biology
Population ecology
Physiological ecology
Conservation of amphibians and reptiles
Spread of invasive forest pests
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Data science
Natural language processing
Assistant Professor of Biology
Molecular Biology
Bacterial Pathogenesis
Synthetic Biology