Archive for the ‘Packard Fellowships for Science & Engineering’ Category

2013 Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering Awarded to Sixteen Researchers

October 17th, 2013

October 17, 2013 (Los Altos, CA) – Today, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation named the 2013 Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering, recognizing 16 of the nation’s most innovative young scientists and engineers. Each Fellow will receive a grant of $875,000 over five years to pursue their research.

“The Packard Foundation believes deeply in the power of science and engineering research and is delighted to support these creative, young scientists. Their independent, exploratory research will generate new knowledge, spark fresh thinking and produce ideas that can improve the human condition,” said Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor at Stanford University, and Chairman of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel.

The Packard Foundation established the Fellowships program in 1988 to provide young scientists early in their careers with flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields of study.  Each year, the Foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration.  The Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, a group of 12 internationally-recognized scientists and engineers, evaluates the nominations and recommends Fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees.

The program was inspired by David Packard’s commitment to strengthen university-based science and engineering programs in the United States, recognizing that the success of the Hewlett-Packard Company, which he cofounded, was derived in large measure from the research and development in university laboratories.

“David Packard believed one of the best ways to make progress as a society and as a nation is to give talented people the resources they need to accomplish their work and then get out of the way to let them do it.  That’s what we try to do with the Fellowships program,” said Orr.

Packard Fellows must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering.

Over 25 years, the Foundation has awarded $330 million to support 505 scientists and engineers from 52 top national universities.  It is among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility on how the funding is used. Packard Fellows have gone on to receive many additional awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize in Physics; the Fields Medal; the MacArthur Fellowships; and elections to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

 

The recipients of the 2013 Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering are:

Emily Balskus

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University

Discipline: Chemistry

Balskus focuses her research on discovering, understanding, and manipulating chemical reactions performed by microorganisms.  By studying human-associated microbial communities and investigating microbial secondary metabolite biosynthesis, she plans to transform our knowledge of how microbes influence our health, how we treat disease, and how we make and discover drugs.

 

Mark Braverman

Department of Computer Science, Princeton University

Discipline: Computer/Information Sciences

Braverman’s research focuses on theoretical computer science and its connections to areas outside of computer science. He is particularly interested in links to problems in economics, electrical engineering, operations research, and mathematics. These connections lead to new insights both in these disciplines and within core computer science.

 

Charlie Conroy

Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz

Discipline: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology

Conroy is interested in understanding how galaxies form and evolve by studying their stellar populations.   He is developing new tools to measure the properties of stars in distant galaxies, and is building a new framework to connect the life cycles of stars, elements, and galaxies.

 

Felix Fischer

Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Discipline: Chemistry

While macroscopic objects largely obey classical physics, the laws of quantum mechanics determine the properties and function of nanometer scale objects. Fischer’s research group strives to understand, control, and harness the exceptional properties emerging from nanoscale carbon-based materials by developing a suite of novel synthetic strategies that offer an unprecedented atomically precise control over length, width, symmetry, and electronic structure.

 

Jacob Fox

Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Discipline: Mathematics

Much of the world can be described as networks, consisting of discrete elements with connections between certain pairs of them. Fox works on developing powerful techniques to solve problems concerning large networks. This research is at the interface between combinatorics and computer science, geometry, analysis, and number theory.

 

Elad Harel

Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University

Discipline: Chemistry

Harel develops optical techniques that can observe the molecular choreography that drives biological processes, such as protein motion, with unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution, and to thereby inform design principles for the development of artificial materials with tailored functionality.

 

Liang Jiang

Department of Applied Physics, Yale University

Discipline: Physics

Jiang explores approaches to efficiently build large-scale quantum systems that can overcome quantum decoherence with current technology. In addition, he incorporates novel topological quantum systems into quantum information processing to achieve intrinsic fault tolerance. Overcoming quantum decoherence will benefit fundamental research and trigger breakthroughs in new technologies.

 

Samuel Lai

Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Discipline: Biological Sciences

By merging biophysics and immunology, Lai’s lab is investigating how antibodies secreted into mucus may interact with mucus constituents to reinforce the body’s first line of defense against pathogens.  The goal is to harness these insights to engineer next generation antibodies and vaccines for improved protection and therapy at mucosal surfaces.

 

Yunsun Nam

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Department of Biophysics, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center

Discipline: Biochemistry

Most of the human genome is used as template for RNA synthesis, but only a minute portion of the RNAs code for protein. Nam’s goal is to elucidate the mechanisms of biogenesis, function, and regulation of non-coding RNAs, through biochemical and structural probing of RNA-protein interactions.

 

Vasilii Petrenko

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Rochester

Discipline: Geosciences

Petrenko’s research uses novel, high-precision measurements of carbon-14 in carbon monoxide from ice cores to estimate the change in the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere since before the Industrial Revolution. Atmospheric oxidizing capacity controls the amount of warming that can result from emission of greenhouse gases such as methane.

 

June Round

Division of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Utah

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Humans are home to symbiotic microorganisms that are crucial for health. Research shows that a disruption to these communities results in disease, highlighting the need for approaches to manipulate the composition of our microbiota. The Round laboratory is exploring pathways that allow our immune system to distinguish between different types of organisms to inform the development of more precise strategies to therapeutically target resident microbes.

 

Ozgur Sahin

Department of Biological Sciences and Physics, Columbia University

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Sahin is developing specialized microscopes to investigate biological molecules and cells that function under physically extreme conditions, like confinement, to very small spaces and high pressures. These observations reveal interesting phenomena, which Sahin combines with engineering insights to address medical, environmental, and energy-related problems in novel ways.

 

David Schuster

Department of Physics, University of Chicago

Discipline: Physics

Schuster seeks to realize hybrid quantum systems, establishing quantum entanglement between disparate objects, such as superconducting circuits, solid-state electron spins, and ripples on the surface of superfluid helium.  Together, the unique properties of each system will be used to advance quantum computing and develop ultrasensitive quantum detectors.

 

Mamta Tahiliani

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, New York University

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Tahiliani’s laboratory endeavors to understand how chemical modifications of DNA participate in the regulation of the genome.  In particular, the Tahiliani group would like to dissect the mechanism by which these modifications preserve the integrity of the genome, thus protecting against tumor development and aging.

 

Zheng Wang

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas, Austin

Discipline: Engineering – Electrical or Computer

Using purposely-designed microfabricated patterns and surfaces, Wang seeks to further miniaturize microfluidic technology to nanoscales through forces generated by light to efficiently propel and steer nanofluidic flows. This effort will enable large-scale integrated fluidic systems and ultrafast tunable liquid optics.

 

Zhiwei Yun

Department of Mathematics, Stanford University

Discipline: Mathematics

Yun’s research project focuses on the interaction between algebraic geometry, number theory and representation theory of groups. He looks for ways to apply methods from one of these areas to solve problems in another. These problems are closely related to the conjectures of Langlands.

Dr. Robert Schoelkopf to Join Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering Advisory Panel

August 26th, 2013

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has appointed Dr. Robert Schoelkopf, a Yale University Sterling Professor of Applied Physics and Physics and Associate Director of the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering, to the Advisory Panel of the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering.  A 2000 Packard Fellow, Schoelkopf joins this group of 12 internationally-recognized scientists and engineers who annually select Fellows from a field of early-career scientists nominated by presidents of fifty universities.

The Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering was established in 1988 to allow the nation’s most promising scientists to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements.  The Fellowship program arose out of David Packard’s commitment to strengthen university-based science and engineering programs, recognizing that the success of the Hewlett-Packard Company, which he cofounded, derived in large measure from the research and development in university laboratories.

“Robert’s perspectives as a former Fellow, and as a leader in his field, will help the Advisory Panel select the strongest candidates each year from a group of wonderfully creative and talented young professors nominated by their universities,” said Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor at Stanford University, and Chairman of the Packard Fellowship Advisory Panel.

Today, Schoelkopf focuses his research on the development of superconducting devices for quantum information processing, which may lead to revolutionary advances in computing.  With his collaborators, Professors Michel Devoret and Steve Girvin, their team created the new field of circuit quantum electrodynamics, which allows quantum information to be distributed by microwave signals on wires. His lab has produced many firsts in the field based on these ideas, including the development of a “quantum bus” for information, and the first demonstration of quantum algorithms and quantum error correction with integrated circuits.

“As a former Packard Fellow, I am honored to join this distinguished group of scientists,” said Schoelkopf. “The Packard Fellowship allowed me the freedom to take risks and explore new ideas early in my career.  I am excited to join the advisory panel, meet some of the future superstars in a wide spectrum of science and engineering, and help them on their way via this important program.”

Read the Full Press Release

2012 Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering Awarded to Sixteen Researchers

October 15th, 2012

October 15, 2012 (Los Altos, CA) – —The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has named 16 scientific researchers from universities across the country as the 2012 recipients of the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering. Each Fellow will receive an unrestricted research grant of $875,000 over five years.

“The Packard Foundation is fortunate to be able to award this Fellowship to these talented researchers. Their important work has the ability to profoundly impact the lives of their students and all of us in the world at large,” said Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor at Stanford University, and Chairman of the Packard Fellowship Advisory Panel. “For 25 years, my colleagues and I at the Foundation and on the Advisory Panel have been inspired by the Packard Fellows’ creativity, leadership in their fields and important breakthroughs in science and engineering.”

The 2012 Fellows were selected by the Packard Fellowship Advisory Panel, a group of 12 nationally-recognized scientists and engineers, and approved by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees, from a field of 98 researchers nominated by presidents of 50 universities that participate in the Packard Fellowship program.

The Packard Fellowship program was established in 1988 to allow the nation’s most promising professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements. The program arose out of David Packard’s commitment to strengthen university-based science and engineering programs in recognition that the success of the Hewlett-Packard Company, which he cofounded, derived in large measure from the research and development in university laboratories.

“David Packard, my father, loved science and engineering – and scientists and engineers. He believed deeply in their importance to our future as a nation and a world,” said Susan Packard Orr, board chair of the Foundation. “One of his beliefs that motivated both his business philosophy and philanthropic efforts was his trust in the individual. Hire extraordinary people, give them some tools and resources, and let them invent the next great thing.”

By supporting highly innovative professors early in their careers, the Foundation hopes to support scientific leaders, helping to further their promising work in science and engineering and encourage their efforts to train the next generation of scientists.

Over the past 25 years, the Packard Fellowships program has awarded $316 million to support 489 faculty members from 52 top national universities. It is among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed with minimal constraints on how the funding is used to give the Fellows freedom to think big and look at complex issues with a fresh perspective. Packard Fellows have gone on to receive additional awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize in Physics; the Fields Medal; the MacArthur Fellowships; and elections to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Packard Fellows must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering.

Click here to see the recipients of the 2012 Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering.

Reflections from Susan Packard Orr on her father’s 100th birthday

September 13th, 2012

During the first week of September, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation hosted the annual meeting of the Packard Fellows for Science and Engineering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Packard Fellows, some of the nation’s most promising professors who are conducting cutting edge research in natural and physical sciences and engineering, gather to share their work and engage in discussion with their colleagues.

This year, the meeting coincided with David Packard’s 100th birthday.  Susan Packard Orr, chair of the Packard Foundation and daughter of David Packard, reflected on her father’s love of the Fellows Program and the importance of the creative pursuit of science in our society.

“Good evening everyone. This gathering is such a joy every year, and especially this year because tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth, David Packard, who was born in Pueblo, Colorado, on Sept. 7, 1912.

Every year, from 1988 when the first Fellows were named until his death in 1996, Father attended the Packard Fellows meeting and he listened to, and understood, every single presentation.  And frequently the meetings coincided with his birthday.  The Aquarium echoes with the memory of a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday from the assembled fellows.

David Packard loved science and engineering – and scientists and engineers. And he believed deeply in their importance to our future as a nation and a world.

I heard him say in numerous speeches near the end of his life that all progress made in the 20th century was based on science done in the 19th century.

From the earliest days the Packard Foundation funded programs to support scientists and engineers – from scholarship support for minority engineering students in the 1970s to support for building science and engineering programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the founding of MBARI and the Packard Fellows Program in the 1980s.

The Foundation continued our deep investment in science through programs fostering interdisciplinary and international science in the 1990s and in marine science through a number of efforts, including PISCO – Partnership for Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans, the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and COMPASS – the Communications Partnership for Science and the Sea.

Father’s support of science was not just through the Packard Foundation.

He also gave generous support to Stanford, his alma mater, to build their programs.

As early as 1945, he made gifts to the Electrical Engineering department. These were just the start of decades of consistent support for science and engineering, culminating with a pledge near the end of his life to replace the old buildings with a new science and engineering quad that is finally nearing completion.
And in honor of their mentor, Fred Terman, Father and Bill Hewlett created the Terman Fellows at Stanford, modeled after our own Packard Fellows.

Finally I must note that this belief in the power of science and engineering did not just motivate his philanthropic efforts – it was fundamental to the success of the Hewlett Packard Company – the source of the wealth that enabled all of these good works.

If you have read any of the books about HP, you know that it was driven by trust in the individual – hire extraordinary people, give them some tools and resources, and let them invent the next great thing.

Not unlike the Packard Fellows, actually.

This was in the DNA of the company from the beginning, but was solidified in 1966 when Dave and Bill created HP Labs.

Here are a few things that came out of HP labs:
• 1966 – First commercially available LED
• 1967 – Cesium beam atomic clock sent to Greenwich to keep the world’s time
• 1968 – First programmable scientific desktop calculator
• 1972 – First pocket scientific calculator, making the slide rule obsolete
• 1979 – Fused silica capillary columns for gas chromatography which revolutionizes chemical analysis
• 1980 – First commercial laser printer for general office use
• 1984 – First low cost inkjet printer, spelling the end of the dot matrix printer

And the list goes on and on.

So in this time when so many politicians proclaim that they don’t believe in evolution, much less climate change, when in some quarters science is no longer revered as the engine of progress, it’s even more important to honor people like David Packard.

Of course your work, and the work of your fellow Fellows, is the best way to honor him.

But perhaps you can also come out of your labs and classrooms now and then to proclaim the importance of the scientific endeavor to our future and the future of our earth.”