Fuzhong Zhang, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, has received a Young Investigator Program award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to fund his synthetic biology research.
The three-year, $510,023 award was one of 36 given to young faculty nationwide from more than 380 applications. The ONR increased funding for the program by 50 percent from last year.
Zhang, assistant professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, is the first faculty member from Washington University to receive the award.
Earlier this year, he received Young Investigator Awards from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Human Frontier Science Program Organization. In addition, he received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2014, and the DARPA Young Faculty Award and the ORAU Junior Faculty Award in 2013. He joined the faculty in 2012.
Zhang's project will focus on the bio-directed synthesis of structurally defined protein materials. Protein-based materials are assembled from a small set of basic subunits, but have intricate nanoscale structures, making them difficult to produce. This project will use synthetic biology methods to control their synthesis, leading to a variety of new and functional materials with defined structures.
The ONR's Young Investigator Program promotes the professional development of early career academic scientists both as researchers and instructors. The funding supports laboratory equipment, graduate students stipends and scholarships, and other expenses.
Recipients must have obtained tenure-track positions within the past five years.
The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 91 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.