Adam Reitzel, Juan Vivero-Escoto Honored for Research and Mentoring Excellence

Adam Reitzel, Juan Vivero-Escoto, Provost Troyer and Chancellor Gaber
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
2024 First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal & de Silva Graduate Mentor Award recipients

Charlotte faculty members Adam Reitzel and Juan Vivero-Escoto are the 2024 recipients of the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal and the Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award, respectively. They were honored at a faculty awards ceremony May 13.

"Our faculty have led our ascent to top-tier research status, helping us serve our region and provide a top-quality education for Charlotte students,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “Adam Reitzel and Juan Vivero-Escoto are excellent illustrations of this work through their exceptional research and outstanding mentoring of graduate students." 

First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal recognizes research excellence

Award winner poses for photo

Reitzel has a global reputation in the field of comparative biology, molecular ecology and evolutionary development. A professor of biological sciences, he is the graduate program director for the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science and co-director of the Center for Computational Intelligence to Predict Health and Environmental Risks.

“Reitzel is exceptional at all levels of scientific research and scholarly engagement,” said Christine Richardson, professor and chair, the Department of Biological Sciences at UNC Charlotte. “He has achieved an international reputation in his field that has elevated the visibility and reputation of UNC Charlotte as a world-class research institution.”

Since his arrival in 2012, Reitzel has developed a successful research program that has attracted NSF, NIH, state and international grants, securing more than $7.17 million in funding. He has also fostered connections across the University and in the local community, recognizing that great science should also be community science. 

“Reitzel’s scholarship is truly impacting and influencing scholars, students and the community, while elevating the visibility and reputation of UNC Charlotte as a world-class research institution,” said Kristi Stevenson, senior vice president and manager of retail banking at First Citizens Bank.

Reitzel earned a doctorate in biology from Boston University, a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University. 

For 37 years, the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal has shined a spotlight on the University and the accomplishments of its faculty and their impact in the local community, throughout the state, across the country and around the world. 

de Silva Award honors graduate-level mentoring

Award winner poses for photo

Juan Vivero-Escoto has been working to enhance graduate student success at Charlotte since his arrival in 2012. A professor of chemistry in the College of Science, he serves as director of the UNC Charlotte Center for Innovation, Translational Research and Applications of Nanostructured Systems.

“Vivero-Escoto’s students have clearly been well-mentored by him and well-positioned for the next steps in their careers,” said Jerry Troutman, professor of chemistry at UNC Charlotte. “His network of extensive collaborations has provided his students with a wealth of expertise outside of his lab and exposed them to work well beyond what could be done by a single research group focused on the production of nanomaterials.”

Vivero-Escoto's research is multidisciplinary, intersecting chemistry, biology, material science and engineering. He has secured $3.8 million in external funding, directed three grants from the National Institute of Health and published 35 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, conference proceedings and editorials. All of Vivero-Escoto’s research publications are co-authored by graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs and collaborators.

“Vivero-Escoto is a catalyst to graduate students’ progress,” said Pinku Mukherjee, interim associate provost and dean of the Graduate School. “He makes personal connections with his students and provides individualized support. Most importantly, he is an empowering, caring and collaborative mentor.”

Vivero-Escoto earned a doctorate in chemistry from Iowa State University and performed post-doctoral research at UNC Chapel Hill. He completed a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico. 

The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award honors its namesake, an exceptional teacher, brilliant scholar and researcher and devoted servant of her profession and community. The award is given annually to the faculty member whose commitment to students, research and scholarly inquiry most closely exemplifies the spirit of de Silva.