Monday, March 21, 2005

We got a pal in Kalamazoo

Western Michigan University undergrad awarded $25,000 for nanotech research (WMU News)

    KALAMAZOO -- An undergraduate focus in the field of nanotechnology--science that focuses on the smallest structures found in nature--has turned into big news for a Western Michigan University student and his department.

    Curtis J. Deer, a senior from Lawrence, Mich., has won a scholarship of up to $25,000--one of just 15 awarded nationally--from the United Negro College Fund and the pharmaceutical giant Merck. The award will put Deer in Merck laboratories over the next two summers, earning an additional stipend, and will pave the way for him to eventually earn a doctoral degree to advance his career.

    ... Deer is part of WMU's nanotechnology team led by Dr. Subra Muralidharan, professor of chemistry and director of the Nanotechnology Research and Computation Center. Although he has been a WMU student for just three years, Deer has earned senior status and is beginning to lay plans for his graduate work in the discipline. He expects to graduate in April 2006 and is already looking at such schools as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Washington and Northwestern University.

    ... Muralidharan describes Deer as something of "a poster child for the value of giving students the opportunity to have hands-on science experience." After what Deer describes as initial amazement at the complexity and opportunities of laboratory life, he jumped in and is now pursuing his own research into an area of nanotechnology known as quantum dots -- an area he says has potential for bioimaging and the development of biosensors as well as in the fields of medical discovery and computation. The Lee Honors College member is writing his honors thesis on the future uses of semi-conductor quantum dots.

    Deer also serves as a W.M. Keck Scholar, one of two undergraduates selected to work as part of Muralidharan's team that is undertaking a $1 million research project aimed at unlocking the secrets of the mechanism that allows the penetration of cells by everything from harmful agents like viruses and pollutants to beneficial new drug discoveries. The project's major funding is from California's W.M. Keck Foundation.

    Deer, who ultimately wants to conduct research and teach at the University level, says he's always gravitated toward science and his experience in WMU labs has left him with a view of a future in which electronic devices are much smaller and biological and environmental sensors are commonplace, thanks to nanotechnology. But he admits to having to resort to today's more common uses of the technology to explain what it all means to family and friends. The stain-resistant properties of today's clothing, for instance, is a favorite of his when he wants to tell people how nanotechnology impacts their lives. More here

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1 comment:

Jonathan Reid said...

Ah, yes. The nanopants strike again! It is so much fun to explain to friends and relatives exactly what I do. The looks I get are priceless.