She has been a member of the Senate of the UNK faculty since 2013 and was president in 2020-21. As president, Gaskill led an anti-bullying initiative, overcame obstacles related to COVID-19 and partnered with other UN campuses to take a united stand against racism and inequality and launch a university-wide diversity and inclusion plan.
Thomas, associate professor of organic chemistry, received the Pratt-Heins Prize for scholarship and research.
A faculty member at UNK since 2014, Thomas has 78 peer-reviewed publications, 26 conference presentations and nine patents, and seven more patent applications are currently pending. He has received more than $ 870,000 in research funding, including a $ 400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study treatments for brain cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of California at San Francisco.
One of the challenges for scientists is to design drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier, the layer of cells that protects the brain from toxic substances. Thomas and his research team are studying ways to use one of the body’s natural mechanisms to transport amino acids, the LAT-1 protein, to deliver drugs to the brain.
“His research and scholarship have the potential to bring life-saving drugs to market through a deeper understanding of the cellular mechanics that move chemicals through barriers,” Tye said during Friday’s presentation.