Five College of Engineering Faculty Win NSF CAREER Grants

Left to right: Xian Du, Lauren Andrews, Peter Beltramo, Jungwoo Lee, Sarah Perry
Left to right: Xian Du, Lauren Andrews, Peter Beltramo, Jungwoo Lee, Sarah Perry

The College of Engineering for the first time has five faculty members who have been awarded National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants. Four of the recipients of the five-year grants, Lauren B. Andrews, Peter J. Beltramo, Jungwoo Lee and Sarah L. Perry, are assistant proferssors in chemical engineering, while Xian Du is an assistant professor in mechanical and industrial engineering.

Sanjay Raman, dean of the College of Engineering, welcomed news of the grants. “These awards are a testimony to the remarkable potential of these early-career UMass engineering faculty,” he says. “They are also the product of strong faculty development programs at the college and university levels, and outstanding mentorship by colleagues across the college. We look forward to the impactful research and educational innovations of these rising stars in emerging areas such as therapeutics and vaccine development, tissue engineering, biomanufacturing, biosensors and flexible electronics.”

Du is the principal investigator on a $571,655 grant that focuses on improvements in roll-to-roll soft lithography. He is establishing a learning-based modeling method that guides the design and control of continuous microcontact printing processes and investigates continuous pattern formation mechanisms.

Andrews, the Marvin and Eva Schlanger Faculty Fellow in chemical engineering, will do researchstudying how communities of bacteria can be engineered to have coordinated behaviors. This will have numerous applications in biomanufacturing, cell-based therapies, and medical diagnostics. Andrews’s $589,060 grant will fund research into developing a new approach for effectively programming how cells in a bacterial community work together in a predictive and highly controllable way.

Beltramo’s $592,332 grant will support his work on understanding the interplay between lipid composition and biomolecule transport in biological membranes. This is fundamental research that could enable the development of such breakthroughs as advanced drug delivery systems, biosensors, and other biomimetic materials.

Lee says his $549,710 grant will fund research that could lead to a greater understanding through which bone remodeling and blood forming processes are functionally coupled in porus, or trabecular bone cavities, by creating tissue engineered stem cell bone marrow models.

Perry’s $657,920 grant will fund a study of a groundbreaking new approach to protein stabilization based on nature-inspired strategies. Her research has the ultimate goal of boosting the accessibility of vaccines and other therapeutics, especially in developing countries, and extending the reach of temperature-stable proteins to sensing and catalysis applications.