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A NanoEngineer and an Electrical Engineer among Seven UC San Diego Faculty to Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

San Diego, CA, February 15, 2011 -- For promising research that could transform how solar cells are manufactured and how people search for new music, nanoengineer Jennifer Cha and electrical engineer Gert Lanckriet earned 2011 Sloan Research Fellowships. Cha and Lanckriet are among the seven young faculty members from the University of California, San Diego to be awarded 2011 Sloan Research Fellowships, more than any other institution.

Jennifer Cha is a professor in the Department of NanoEngineering and Gert Lanckriet is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, both within the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Cha uses biological materials and bio-inspired techniques to arrange nanoscale materials into highly oriented and ordered arrays. These complex nanoparticle arrays have excellent potential for impact in plasmonics, solar cells, sensors and high-density magnetic data storage.

Lanckriet is developing automated ways to search, annotate and generally make sense of the ever-growing sea of digital music. This work is aimed at new music search and discovery technologies, such as automated ways for a listener to search for “music like U2's” -- without knowing a relevant artist or song name and without relying on lists of songs manually annotated by humans.

Fellows are nominated by their peers and selected by an independent panel of senior scholars. They receive two-year, $50,000 grants from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to pursue any line of research they choose.

Jennifer Cha: NanoEngineering

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Jennifer Cha, NanoEngineering

Cha’s current research uses biological materials and bio-inspired techniques to arrange nanoscale materials into highly oriented and ordered arrays using entirely thermodynamically driven processes. While the composition, size, and morphology of individual nanomaterials can be tuned easily to maximize their theoretical potential, difficulties in positioning them with perfect or near-perfect order at predefined sites on a substrate has greatly hindered their translation into practical, real-world devices in applications ranging from electronics to solar cells to medical diagnostics. In contrast to using kinetically-driven processes such as evaporation which are generally uncontrolled and time-consuming, nature utilizes entirely thermodynamic processes to arrange organic and inorganic materials into programmed assemblies by confining the raw materials and encouraging their association through highly specific non-covalent biomolecular interactions. “My research focuses on understanding the physical and chemical forces between nanoscale objects and biomolecules and applying this knowledge to engineer these components into functional arrays and macroscopic shapes,” explained Cha. These complex nanoparticle arrays could make their way into plasmonics, solar cells, sensors and high-density magnetic data storage. Read more about Cha's work on the Jacobs School news site.

 

Gert Lanckriet: Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Gert Lanckriet, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Gert Lanckriet is being recognized for work on machine learning and music information retrieval performed in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Lanckriet’s upcoming research plans will focus, in part, on the development of algorithms for music recommendation and playlist generation – or in the language of electrical engineers: “content-based music annotation and multiple kernel learning algorithms adapted for information retrieval tasks.”

The YouTube video embedded below describes a new kind of music search engine developed by UC San Diego electrical engineering Ph.D. student Luke Barrington, Gert Lanckriet and others in the Computer Audition Laboratory at UCSD.

UC San Diego Sloan Research Fellows

“The scientists and researchers selected for this year’s Sloan Research Fellowships represent the very brightest stars of this generation of scholars,” said Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in a statement. “The Foundation is proud to be able to support their work at this important stage in their careers.”

Jennifer Cha, Department of NanoEngineering, Jacobs School of Engineering

Joshua Figueroa, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Division of Physical Sciences

Takaki Komiyama, Department of Neurosciences, School of Medicine and Neurobiology Section, Division of Biological Sciences

Gert Lanckriet– Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Jacobs School of Engineering

Dragos Oprea– Department of Mathematics, Division of Physical Sciences

Leor Wienberger– Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Division of Physical Sciences

Gene Yeo– Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine

The seven from UC San Diego are among 118 new fellows, the foundation announced today.

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