Imagine charging your cell phone or electric car wirelessly, or imaging a human body at the protein level, helping to cure diseases such as cancer or malaria.
These are a few of the research areas for which six CU Boulder researchers received the 2016 National Science Foundation's (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards.
The research awards, which come with a five-year grant of at least $500,000, support junior faculty members who demonstrate excellence in research and effectively integrate their research with education.
“It’s terrific to see these bright young stars recognized for integrating innovative approaches to teaching and excellence in research," said Terri Fiez, CU Boulder vice chancellor for research and innovation. "We are thrilled with this recognition and look forward to hearing about their research accomplishments and education of future leaders.”
The 2016 award winners are Jen Kay of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)/Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC); Julie Lundquist, also of ATOC; Nancy Emery, of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO); Stacey Smith, also of EBIO; Khurram Afridi of Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering (EECE); and Juliet Gopinath, also of EECE as well as Materials Science & Engineering (MSE).
Khurram Afridi’s award will support his research in high-frequency power electronics for wireless power transfer systems. The technology has the potential to transform the way portable electronics, such as cell phones, are charged, as well as the potential to power electric cars wirelessly while they are moving.
|Jennifer Kay’s research uses observations and climate models to understand the influence of polar processes, such as clouds, on climate all over the world, including in Colorado. The research will be used by scientists and educators to help understand the connections that control the world’s shared climate future.|
|Stacey Smith is investigating flower pigmentation in the colorful genus petunia and its wild relatives. Her research may lead to new approaches for the genetic engineering of vegetables and fruits, where pigment compounds have nutritional value as antioxidants. Her work may also provide the foundation for developing methods for predicting how the interaction of a plant’s genetic makeup with its environment is likely to alter observable characteristics, such as flower color.|
|Julie Lundquist is developing new approaches for measuring and simulating turbulence to improve weather forecasts for renewable energy, transportation, air quality and agricultural applications. Her measurements come from lidar systems, detection systems that work on the principle of radar, but use light from a laser. Lidar systems are typically used just to measure winds, but can also provide insights into atmospheric turbulence.|
|Juliet Gopinath will use her award to study the relationship between orbital angular momentum or OAM (light with a spiral phase) and rotating objects. Results of Gopinath's research could be used for free-space communications (sending data through air using light) and for techniques that would enhance the resolution of an imaging system through an endoscope, allowing protein-level imaging in the human body. The structure of proteins and their cellular function could be the key to understanding diseases ranging from cancer to malaria.|
Nancy Emery’s lab studies how plants adapt and persist in constantly changing environments. Through her CAREER award, she is investigating how a plant’s habitat characteristics influence its investment in dispersal; for example, if habitat conditions can predict the size and shape of seeds and the way they are released into the environment. Her research results will contribute to scientists’ abilities to predict whether plant species can adjust to environmental impacts caused by humans, including habitat loss and climate change, by navigating to new locations.