Salerno Symposium showcases faculty research

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 17, 2019

Event honors legacy of one of KSU’s top science researchers

Two faculty researchers were recently recognized for their contributions in the fields of chemistry and biology at KSU’s John C. Salerno Memorial Research Symposium, a symposium highlighting a cross-section of faculty research at the University.

Altug Poyraz, assistant professor of chemistry, earned the John C. Salerno Prize for Research Achievement, and Martin Hudson, associate professor of biology, received the People’s Choice Award for Best Presentation.

Salerno Symposium

The symposium also featured seven researchers who shared their latest discoveries with KSU students and faculty colleagues.

  • Joseph Bock, professor of international conflict management
    “Humanitarianism Unleashed: How to Take the World into Your Own Hands”
  • Martina Kaledin, associate professor of chemistry
    “Driven Molecular Dynamics Method for a Precise Understanding and Assignments of Experimental Spectra”
  • Kevin McFall, associate professor of mechatronics engineering
    “How Do Self-Driving Vehicles Really Work?”
  • Charles Perrin, part-time assistant professor of history
    “Forgotten Prisoners of the Tsar: East Prussian Deportees in Russia during World War I”
  • Eric Stachura, assistant professor of mathematics
    “A New Mathematical Model for Cancer Stem Cell Invasion”
  • Jared Taglialatela, associate professor of biology
    What Bonobos and Chimpanzees Are Teaching Us about the Origins of Language”
  • Doreen Wagner, professor of nursing
    “An Exploration of Postoperative Delirium and Unplanned Perioperative Hypothermia in Surgical Patients”

The symposium was launched in 2018 to honor the academic legacy of Salerno, the Neel Distinguished Chair in Biotechnology prior to his death in 2015. Salerno was eminent in the field focusing on fundamental discoveries in free radical biology, spectroscopy and enzymology.

“The Salerno Symposium is fast becoming the premier campus-wide celebration of the vibrant and growing research culture at KSU,” said Jonathan McMurry, associate vice president for research in KSU’s Office of Research and the symposium organizer.  

Through the lens of materials chemistry, Poyraz’s research focuses on exploring alternative materials to coat a rechargeable battery’s cathode – the positive charge of a battery – which starts to breakdown during the charging/discharging phases.

Poyraz explained that the novel cathode-free zinc-ion battery design he is developing would help lower the costs of manufacturing large-scale energy storage devices as well as improving and extending battery life and performance.

“Having an event like this is really a great opportunity for us to present our research and to learn more about other research activities at KSU,” said Poyraz. “This is my second year participating and I feel more excited to be a part of the symposium.”

Martin Hudson
Martin Hudson

On the life sciences side, Hudson conducts research on genetic control of nervous system development, connectivity, and function using a nematode (roundworm) model.

Hudson said that genes controlling neuron fate, shape and function in the C. elegans used in the studies are very similar to those essential genes found in humans. Therefore, discoveries made in the worm model will be translatable to understanding the causes of human neurological disorders.

“The Salerno family were incredibly open and welcoming when I moved here, and John was a valued mentor to me during my early days as a junior faculty member,” added Hudson. “It was a privilege to present my research at a symposium in honor of his legacy.”

Salerno Symposium
Joseph Bock

The symposium is organized by KSU’s Office of Research, in conjunction with the John C. Salerno Memorial Fund.

“The second annual Salerno Symposium was a great success, bringing together the KSU community to reflect on research and scholarship from all over campus,” Carol Chrestensen, professor of chemistry, who served as the symposium’s emcee.

– Joëlle Walls

Photos by Jason Getz

Related Stories

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit