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Barbara S. Stowe Award Helps Faculty Advance Their Careers

Window sign that says Wilson College of Textiles

By Destry Adams

Four junior faculty members have won the Barbara S. Stowe Faculty Support Endowment Fund. The winners are Assistant Professors Chanmi Gloria Hwang, Kate Nartker, Rong Yin and Mengmeng Zhu.

The Barbara S. Stowe Faculty Support Endowment Fund is awarded to junior faculty members, or professors that have been hired by NC State within the last three years. The winners are given $600 to help learn more about their field or network with other professionals or companies. After a faculty member has been nominated by the Office of Human Resources, the nominees must submit an application explaining their goals at NC State and how they plan to use the award to achieve them, alongside any departmental recommendations.

Below, meet the recipients of the award and learn how they will use the funds to advance their careers.

Gloria Hwang standing near the Wilson College of Textiles

Dr. Chanmi Gloria Hwang

Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management 

Dr. Hwang began working at the Wilson College in the fall of 2021. 

In addition to teaching students and working with staff on 3-D fittings, Hwang plans on researching how this type of software can become more accessible to consumers.

Hwang says she will use this funding to join organizations to learn more about 3-D apparel design and to expand her network. She plans to join The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists to learn more about textiles and Product Innovation Apparel to network with other companies.

“The industry is changing rapidly,” Hwang says. “The COVID-19 numbers really accelerated the use of those virtual products. I want to prepare the students for the market and changing industries.”

Kate Nartker standing in front of colored thread

Kate Nartker

Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management 

Assistant Professor Nartker was hired in November 2019. 

Nartker is currently investigating textile-based assistive devices, such as slings and braces, alongside Associate Professor Kate Annett-Hitchcock and Assistant Professor Anne Porterfield. Their research will focus on the aesthetics of these devices.

“There’s a large percentage of the population who uses assistive technology who abandons it, and one of the main reasons is it goes against their cultural identity; it’s stigmatic,” Nartker says. “We wanted to learn more about consumers’ preferences in the aesthetics of their assistive devices.”

Nartker and her team are researching do-it-yourself spaces on Etsy and how artists are customizing their own assistive devices to become fashionable. Nartker plans to use her funds to travel to the Costume Society of America Symposium in May, where she will present her findings.

Dr. Rong Yin

Dr. Rong Yin

Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science

Dr. Yin was hired as an assistant professor in January 2020. Prior to working at the university, he received his doctoral degree from the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at The Hong Kong University Polytechnic University, where he published many journals, conference proceedings and patents about incorporating yarn into technology. 

One of the processes he is researching is called Nu-Torque technology, which produces yarn with high strength and low residue torque.

“My long-term goal in mind is to use my knowledge to develop different kinds of yarn to be used for smart textiles,” Yin says. “I also work with hemp fibers, which are quite environmentally friendly, and how to take advantage of that technology.”

Yin will use the funds to travel to various conferences, such as the NoCO Hemp Expo and the 2022 Industrial Hemp Summit. He hopes to learn more about new hemp processing technologies, network with potential industries and look for future funding opportunities.

Mengmeng Zhu sitting in her office

Dr. Mengmeng Zhu

Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science

Dr. Zhu was hired as an assistant professor in November 2018. 

“My research is to develop mathematical models to predict the reliability and resilience of complex systems and to use machine learning and deep learning algorithms to predict and manage the health of complex systems,” Zhu says.

Zhu plans on using the funds to attend the 27th International Society of Science and Applied Technologies International Conference on Reliability and Quality in Design and the INFORMS Annual Meeting

Both conferences will feature renowned scholars and researchers discussing their findings in reliability and decision-making in technology. She hopes to learn about new discoveries and network with people to collaborate on future projects.