Fresno State biology professor Dr. David Lent received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award of $668,835. Lent is the first Fresno State professor to receive the honor.

Lent’s award will support an integrated research and education project aimed at determining how animals navigate in complex environments. The ultimate goal of this project is to advance the understanding of the perceptual, learning and memory mechanisms underlying navigation.

The project is focused on providing new learning and research opportunities to expand interdisciplinary education for Fresno State’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors.

“I am honored to receive this level of support from the National Science Foundation for the development of my research program and educational goals over the next five years,” Lent said. “Certainly, it is an exciting time in the lab as we look forward to discovering mechanisms underlying animal navigation as well as expanding the opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary research and education.”

The CAREER awards are given to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations, according to the National Science Foundation.

“This is a remarkable achievement, both for Dr. Lent and for Fresno State,” said Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fresno State. “These awards are highly competitive and generally go to research-intensive institutions, so this is indeed a significant accomplishment. Dr. Lent has quickly earned a reputation as a highly innovative and successful researcher and is an outstanding example of the talent, energy and expertise of faculty that we are bringing to our University.”

Lent came to Fresno State as an assistant professor in the Biology Department in 2012. He received the 2015-2016 Provost’s Award for Promising New Faculty.

Lent has helped reshape the biology master’s program, developing a new course on experimental design and helping to develop a roadmap to enable master’s students to graduate in four semesters.

He also led efforts to create the Biology Honors Program. He developed the program and courses, organized the first round of recruiting students and is now teaching the first honors course.

Lent is a leader in a National Science Foundation-funded initiative by the College of Science and Mathematics to redesign the introductory science and mathematics course.