In work reported in Science, Nick Abbott and colleagues showed that concentrations of endotoxin in the picogram/milliliter range were enough to trigger a change in the appearance of liquid crystalline droplets visible in a light microscope. Endotoxin comes from the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and is considered a key indicator of bacterial contamination. The researchers determined that the transition was not driven by adsorption of endotoxin over the surface of the liquid crystalline droplet, a mechanism that would not permit the exquisite sensitivity observed, but instead by localization of the endotoxin at defects in the liquid crystal droplets. This previously unreported mechanism could find use in detection of many important substances in addition to endotoxin. Nick was also recently appointed as the coeditor of Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science.
In January, Juan de Pablo was recognized with the Sandoval Vallarta Award, given every two years by the Metropolitan University of Mexico for outstanding contributions to theoretical and experimental physics. As part of that award, Juan delivered a series of three lectures and a short course in Mexico. This fall, he delivered a plenary lecture at the Society of Rheology National Meeting in Cleveland titled, "Directed assembly of complex fluids, and its application to nanoscale fabrication." Juan also was appointed recently to the Committee on Condensed Matter and Materials of the National Research Council.
Jim Dumesic is the recipient of the American Chemical Society George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry. The award recognizes Jim for groundbreaking contributions to the literature and practice of catalytic hydrocarbon chemistry, laying the foundations for transforming renewable biomass products to liquids fuels and chemicals. Jim will receive the award this March at the ACS national meeting in San Diego.
Mike Graham has been elected as fellow of the American Physical Society. In nominating Mike, the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics cited Mike's "diverse contributions to the understanding of complex fluids, including the flow of polymer solutions in confined geometries, the nonlinear dynamics of viscoelastic flows at low and high Reynolds numbers, and the collective dynamics of swimming microorganisms." In further recognition of his accomplishments, the UW Graduate School has selected Mike for a Kellett Mid-Career Faculty Researcher Award, which provides $60,000 in flexible research funds generated by patents filed through WARF (the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation).
Christos Maravelias and Jim Rawlings recently presented a plenary talk at the joint FOCAPO/CPC (Foundations of Computer-Aided Process Operations/Chemical Process Control) conference in Savannah, Georgia. Their talk, "Integration of Control Theory and Scheduling Methods for Supply Chain Management," was the first talk on the joint programming day devoted to challenges and opportunities for integration of operations and control, especially in the context of emerging energy applications. Christos also is one of two new directors elected to two-year terms on the executive committee of the CAST (Computing and Systems Technology) division of AIChE.
Manos Mavrikakis was appointed to the editorial board of ACS Catalysis, a new journal from the American Chemical Society. Manos's group also recently published an article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society about the discovery of novel Pt-mixed monolayer catalysts supported on non-Pt late transition metals that show dramatically enhanced CO-tolerance. These catalysts show promise for the anode of low temperature fuel cells because they decrease materials costs and diminish catalyst poisoning by CO.
Brian Pfleger and Jennie Reed are the recipients of an award from the US Department of Energy through the UW-BACTER (Bringing Advanced Computational Techniques to Environmental Research) Institute. The grant will support a graduate student in each lab as they collaborate on a research project that combines computational and experimental approaches for modulating gene expression in metabolically engineered bacteria.)
At its November 2011 meeting, the IEEE board of directors elected Jim Rawlings to become a fellow of the organization. Election to fellow is among the association's most prestigious honors. The world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity, IEEE has more than 400,000 members in more than 165 countries. The association cited Jim for his contributions to model predictive control.
Researchers at UW-Madison's new Morgridge Institute for Research have released the biomedical research organization's first digital learning game. Created with help from John Yin and others, Virulent is designed to teach key concepts in systems biology, an interdisciplinary research field that focuses on complex interactions in biological systems. Morgridge Institute researcher and game designer Nathan Patterson says the game, intended for people age 13 and older, allows players to experience what it takes to infect a cell, replicate and escape to infect other cells. The game is available for free download from iTunes as an iPad app and from the Morgridge Institute website.