Science and Scholarship

In the arts and sciences, our faculty and their students focus on discovery, innovation and creating original works of art, research and scholarship that solve critical problems, expand human knowledge and inspire the world to see, think and create in new ways. Thirty-eight departments, schools and programs and 20 world-class research centers form a front line of multidisciplinary, collaborative partnerships forged to make a distinctive difference worldwide.

Their work is recognized with top awards and honors and supported by major federal and state granting agencies, along with funding from business, industry and international organizations.

$3M + NIH Grant Funds International, Cross-disciplinary Research on Medical Implants

Steven Lower

Earth Sciences Professor Steven Lower's new five-year grant of just over $3 million dollars ($3,002,203) from the National Institutes of Health, along with two other recent grants, funds his innovative, decade-long, cross-disciplinary research on the potentially deadly blood infection caused by bacterial cells that attach to implanted cardiac devices. Affecting approximately 4 percent of the one million patients receiving implants each year, it adds up to thousands of surgeries and racks up more than $1 billion in health-care costs every year. Lower leads an international team that includes a medical researcher, biochemist, physician, computational chemist and geneticist; from Duke, Texas A&M, University of Florida, and universities in Brazil and Switzerland.

$1.6M NIH Grant Funds Critical Factors in Infant Learning Study

Vladimir Sloutsky, professor, psychology, and director of the Cognitive Development Lab, received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the development of categorization and category learning in infants and young children — critical components of human intelligence — work that will provide a window into how these important processes emerge and change in the course of development.

Unique NSF/NIH Grant Funds Work at Interface of Biological and Mathematical Sciences

Helen Chamberlin, professor, molecular genetics; and Adriana Dawes, assistant professor, mathematics and molecular genetics; are co-PI’s on a new $1,280,030 NSF/NIH grant that funds “phenotype engineering by a signaling network modification.” They are exploring what goes wrong during cell division to cause cancer and ways to prevent it, work with possible future implications for personalized medicine. 

Noted Plant Hunter Appointed JPL Distinguished Visiting Scientist

In August, B. Scott Gaudi, professor, astronomy, began a two-year appointment as Distinguished Visiting Scientist (DVS) at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). At JPL, one of NASA’s major research and mission development centers, more than 5,000 scientists and engineers develop technologies and build missions enabling cutting-edge science in many areas. The DVS Program brings in leading scientists from around the country to enrich their program.

$2M NSF Grant Funds New Materials Research Collaboration

Joshua Goldberger and Joseph Heremans

The new, $2 million dollar project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation will allow Joshua Goldberger (right), assistant professor, chemistry and biochemistry, and his team, to look at ways to control and modulate the thermal conductance and thermoelectric properties of germanium and tin by manipulating the materials’ thermal properties on the atomic level. Other team members include Joseph Heremans, professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering; and physics.

PhD Student Explores Data Science for Social Good

Statistics graduate student Andrew Landgraf was one of 48 graduate students selected Fellows of the three-month Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Fellowship Summer Program at the University of Chicago. The internship-like program, designed for aspiring data scientists around the country, puts data mining, machine learning and big-data skills to work on projects that have social impact.

Graduate Student Team Wins $100k DOE Clean Energy Prize

KAir Battery LLC, founded by chemistry graduate students Damian Beauchamp, XIaodi Ren and Professor Yiying Wu, based on their potassium-air battery invention, took top prizes at last spring’s Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas, including DOE’s Clean Energy Prize of $100,000. The KAir team includes chemistry grad students Mingfu Hu, Xuanxuan Bi and Zhongjie Huang and Fisher College grad student Kate Fisher.

Junior Named 2014 Beinecke Scholar

Abby CarlozzoLast spring, junior honors student Abby Carlozzo, majoring in dance, minoring in French and arts entrepreneurship, was named a 2014 Beinecke Scholar. These scholarships, awarded annually to 20 college juniors around the country demonstrating intellectual ability, scholastic achievement and personal promise who are planning on graduate work in the arts, humanities or social sciences, provide $34,000 to support their graduate studies.