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CBSE affiliates capture Aligned Research Program awards

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Five CBSE faculty affiliates, Holger Schmidt, Bill Sullivan, Michael Isaacson, Roberto Manducci, and Gabriel Elkaim, have received research awards from the Aligned Research Program (ARP) offered through the University Affiliate Research Center (UARC). A collaboration established in 2003 between UC Santa Cruz and NASA Ames Research Center, the UARC pursues research critical to achieving success in NASA missions, develops technologies to improve the quality of life on Earth, and sponsors cutting-edge educational programs.

In 2004, the ARP awarded funding to 15 proposals totaling $500,000. The awards of $24,329 to $50,000 are distributed among the following categories: aerospace-related, information technology, biotechnology, robotics/sensors, space science, and nanoscience.

Holger Schmidt captured the maximum award of $50,000 to develop an instrument with integrated nanopore sensors to study single biomolecules. The new instrument will allow a combination of electrical and optical sensing. Nanopores will serve as 'smart gates' that allow one molecule at a time into an optical channel. As molecules pass through the nanopores, they cause a measurable change in the electronic current blockade, which is a highly sensitive detector for differences between molecules. The optical channel consists of integrated optical waveguides that guide light through micron-sized cores and allow visualization of the molecule. This microscopic analysis can elucidate protein folding and has applications such as fluorescence-based DNA sequencing.

Bill Sullivan received $39,000 to develop integrated capture matrices for the biochemical purification of macromolecular structures. He plans to employ nanotubes to isolate contractile rings from dividing cells'a long-sought goal of cell biologists. If successful, this would allow for the characterization of contractile rings and also provide an important first step in developing a general method for isolating macromolecular structures. This miniaturization of biochemical purification technology could be readily integrated with other lab-on-a-chip devices or facilitate the development of a new class of stationary-phase materials useful in purifying macromolecular complexes.

Michael Isaacson was awarded $31,958 for lipid imprinting and self-assembling protein arrays for nanotechnology. Roberto Manducci received $27,457 for monitoring wildfires using UAV-based multispectral image analysis. Gabriel Elkaim was awarded $24,069 for developing metasensor technology using high performance guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) with low-cost sensors.

The 52 proposals submitted for this award were evaluated based on scientific quality, alignment with Ames' mission, probability of follow-up funding, and stimulus to the UC/NASA Ames research collaboration.