April 2, 2002

More Professors Win NSF Award

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking new faculty members who are considered most likely to become future academic leaders in their fields for recipients of the Faculty Early Career Development Program grant.

After recognizing three Cornell professors in computer science and electrical and computer engineering, NSF conveyed the honor and a $500,000, five-year grant to Profs. Brian Crane and John Marohn, chemistry and biology.

The awards for Crane and Marohn contribute to a prestigious chemistry faculty, which currently includes a Nobel laureate, six members of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellows and five American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows.

Crane also claimed one of 15 grants from the Searle Scholars Program.

“I had always been interested in proteins,” said Crane, whose research focuses on interactions among proteins, electrons and photons.

“They’re almost like little machines,” he said.

As a graduate student, Crane began working on proteins that contained metals. As a postdoctoral researcher, he proceeded to research how light is trapped within sensory proteins. He believes that almost every single cell in the body has a time-keeping mechanism, which directs the transfer of information between cells.

“I got interested in seeing how light could control and influence these reactions,” he said.

Crane credits Jay Dunlap and Jennifer Loros at the Dartmouth Medical College and Michael Young at the Rockefeller University for their work in molecular genetics research.

“They have really done a lot of great work in figuring out just what these components that we’re going to be studying really are,” he said.

With the NSF and Searle Scholar funds, Crane seeks to detail circadian clock components in the hope of furthering the group’s understanding of how information is passed through different organisms.

Crane received a B.Sc. at the University of Manitoba in 1990 and his Ph.D. in macromolecular and cellular structure and chemistry at Scripps Research Institute in 1996. He joined the Cornell faculty two years ago.

Marohn investigates mesoscale and nanoscale materials by novel scanned-probe microscopes. Using the latest techniques to understand these materials, Marohn studies advanced thin-film electronic and magnetic materials, probing its charge with electric forces and its spin with magnetic forces.

Marohn intends to incorporate materials chemistry and the physics behind scanned-probe microscopes into undergraduate courses. In addition, he plans to work with students in elementary and secondary schools and introduce undergraduates to materials science research, the Cornell News Service reported.

Marohn received a B.A. in physics and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1989 and a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1996. He has been at Cornell since 1999, working with the Cornell Center for Material Research as well as the chemistry and chemical biology department.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch