Yale Professor Receives Nanotechnology Research Grant from Keck FUTURES

The National Academies Keck FUTURES initiative has announced that Yale Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering David LaVan and Andrew Ellington of the University of Texas at Austin are recipients of a FUTURES grant in the amount of $75,000 to support their interdisciplinary research on nanoscience and nanotechnology.

LaVan and Ellington’s project “Nano-Biocomposites for Conversion of Sunlight to Electricity” addresses the great need for generating economical power. They have proposed a novel paradigm in which photons are transformed into high-energy electrons. Their effort will meld bio- and nanotechnologies to create a system for solar energy capture that can be efficiently mass-produced and scaled to a variety of energy needs.

“The grant arose out of the revolutionary National Academies/Keck Foundation Futures meeting, the second of which was held this past Fall. I helped to organize one, called “Designing Nanostructures at the Interface between Biomedical and Physical Systems” said LaVan. “The goal of the meeting was to bring very divergent groups together — such as doctors, biochemists and engineers — lock them away for a weekend to see what would happen, and then to kick-start risky new ideas with a small number of seed grants to participants.”

The National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE was launched in 2003 to stimulate new modes of scientific inquiry and break down the conceptual and institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research. Funded by a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE is a 15-year effort to catalyze interdisciplinary inquiry and to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities, and the general public - with the object of stimulating interdisciplinary research at the most exciting frontiers. The meetings are held on a different topic every two years and are limited to 100 selected participants.

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Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157