Published: May 13, 2019 By

Jerome M. FoxCU Boulder Assistant Professor Jerome Fox has been selected for the Army-ECASE award to study emergent behavior in biochemical networks. The Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers provides $1 million over five years. It is an extension of the U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigator Award he received this summer.

Fox’s research, in a nutshell, aims to determine how biology does so much with so little. Living systems function through networks of chemical reactions that are tightly organized in space and time. Fox will work to determine how enzymes – nature’s catalysts – work together to control these networks. The insights supplied by this work will facilitate the construction of biocatalytic systems that perform complex tasks with minimal energy demand.

“That could include rapidly reconfigurable chemical reactors or, perhaps, materials with environmentally responsive colors and textures,” said Fox who is based in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department.

Fox will begin by working with enzyme systems that generate oleochemicals (i.e., chemicals typically derived from animal or vegetable oils). This work will help his team develop a set of design rules for building stable, self-regulating, and/or stimuli-responsive biocatalytic networks with broad ranging applications.

“We are beyond excited to have received this award,” he said. “It will allow us to dig deep into fundamental questions of biological complexity.”

Fox has been an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering since 2016. He earned his undergraduate degrees in environmental engineering and natural science from Johns Hopkins University and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award in 2018.