Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nanoengineer Liangfang Zhang wins American Chemical Society's Unilever Award for 2012

The American Chemical Society has awarded Lianfang Zhang, professor in the Department of NanoEngineering, the ACS Colloid and Surface Division Unilever Award for 2012. This award was established in 2004 to recognize work in the field of colloid or surfactant science by North American researchers in the early stages of their careers. The award recognizes Zhang’s research on biomimetic nanomaterials that integrate synthetic colloids with natural cellular membrane materials, and biologically responsive nanostructures for drug delivery.

For example, Zhang’s lab has shown that nanoparticles stuffed with a cocktail of cancer-fighting drugs can be hidden from the body’s immune system by simply wrapping them in the membrane of a red blood cell. His red blood cell membrane cloaked nanoparticles were featured in a front-page story by UT San Diego last November and in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nanoparticles are less than 100 nanometers in size, about the same size as a virus. “This is the first work that combines the natural cell membrane with a synthetic nanoparticle for drug delivery applications.” said Zhang, who is also affiliated with Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

Zhang is also working on biologically responsive nanostructures that offer a new way to deliver antimicrobial agents directly to the site of bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Zhang’s team use phospholipid liposomes to deliver the antibiotics. But liposomes by themselves wouldn’t last long enough to deliver an effective treatment so Zhang has stabilized them with chitosan-coated gold nanoparticles.

You can learn more about the Zhang Research Group’s gold nanoparticle-stabilized liposomes for bacterial skin infections at the April 12 Research Expo 2012 when Soracha Thamphiwatana, a nanoengineering graduate student in Zhang’s lab, will present a poster on this research, which was published last year in Chemical & Engineering News.

The Unilever Award is one of the most competitive and prestigious national awards offered by the ACS Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. Zhang will receive the award this summer during the 86th ACS Colloids and Surface Science Symposium in Baltimore June 12.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Top Five Reasons to Attend Research Expo at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

5. What happens at Research Expo DOES NOT stay at Research Expo! Meet the innovators who will shape tomorrow’s technologies, advances and industries.

4. Fast-Paced Faculty Talks: Hot topics from all six engineering departments at the Jacobs School.

3. Stretch your Mind…and your Legs. Get out of the office for just a couple of hours and learn what is at the leading edge of many engineering fields.

2. Explore your World-Class Engineering Resource. The Jacobs School of Engineering is one of the top 10 schools in the world. Make the most of this resource.

1. Connect with 230+ Graduate Students. At the poster session and networking reception, spark a collaboration and recruit top talent.

Research Expo at the Jacobs School of Engineering
Thursday, April 12 from 1:30-6:00 p.m.
UC San Diego Price Center
Attend Research Expo. Your brain will thank you.

Faculty researchers share their experiences turning discoveries into marketable products

Four engineering faculty members with technology transfer success stories discussed the challenges of the commercialization process during a March 14 dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement. The von Liebig Center offers seed funding and advisory services and is part of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

“If we do research and just put it on the shelf to collect dust, we’re not doing our job,” said Frieder Seible, dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering. “We need to transfer our discoveries from the research lab to society.” During the dinner, which was hosted by the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associates, Seible said the von Liebig Center had transformed the culture of the engineering school, giving students and faculty an entrepreneurial mindset. The Chancellor’s Associates are generous group of alumni, parents and friends who give $2,500 or more each year to be used at the Chancellor's discretion to fund the university's greatest needs.

Stephen Flaim, who is deputy director of the center and one of its several technology and business advisors, talked about the so-called Valley of Death, a gap between the laboratory and the marketplace that can fell even the most promising technology. Lacking funding and a connection with private sector investors and collaborators, researchers can easily get stuck. “There is a gap before the gap,” said Flaim. “That gap is the step from the university out to the private sector. What we did here at the von Liebig Center was figure out a mechanism and an infrastructure that allowed us to make the technologies inside a university recognizable at an earlier stage.”

Read our story about the success stories of UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professors David Kriegman, computer science and engineering; Rene Cruz, electrical and computer engineering; Sujit Dey, electrical and computer engineering; and Geert Schmid-Schönbein, bioengineering. You can learn more about the cutting edge student research happening in faculty labs, including those of Schmid-Schönbein, Dey and Cruz at Research Expo April 12. Here's a snapshot of what their students will be presenting during the poster session:

Student(s): Angelina Esther Altshuler
Professor(s): Geert Schmid-Schönbein

Student(s): Efecan Poyraz
Professor(s): Rene L. Cruz

Student(s): Seyed Ali Mirtar
Professor(s): Sujit Dey

Student(s): Ranjini B Guruprasad
Professor(s): Sujit Dey

Student(s): Yao Liu
Professor(s): Sujit Dey

Student(s): Chetan Kumar Verma
Professor(s): Sujit Dey

Student(s): Hasti Ahlehagh
Professor(s): Sujit Dey

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jacobs School Bioengineering Department Hits at Home Run at San Diego Science & Engineering Festival

Earlier today, we chatted on Facebook with bioengineering graduate student Carolyn Schutt, the lead organizer at the Jacobs School bioengineering department for the San Diego Science & Engineering Festival.  Here is what she told us:

The Bioengineering Department is presenting a special exhibit at this week's San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering. We're talking with lead organizer Carolyn Schutt. Carolyn is also a PhD candidate in Bioengineering and Bioengineering Graduate Society Outreach Chair. Carolyn, are you logged on?
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  • 2 people like this.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering You can learn more about the festival by checking out their site.
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt Good morning!
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Good morning. Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your exhibit, Home Run Science Challenge. What will you be doing and when?
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt The UCSD Bioengineering Department exhibit is called "Cell Adventures: Follow the Cues to a New You" and will be on display all day Saturday at Petco Park for the San Diego Science and Engineering Festival. Here visitors will be able to play interactive games, including a giant "Plinko Board" (of Price is Right fame), which illustrates the concept of a cell's maturation into a specific cell type. Visitors will also learn about and see tools from cutting-edge research in the field of regenerative medicine, straight from our bioengineering labs. The UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society will also have an exhibit, where visitors will be able to isolate DNA from strawberries and play a game to complete a DNA strand from its template.
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt In addition, UCSD Bioengineering is also leading an all-new Festival-wide program, called the Home Run Science Challenge
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Why did you select these particular exhibit topics? How a cell differentiates and matures, for example. What are the core science concepts you want kids to learn?
      2 hours ago · 
    • Carolyn Schutt We decided on the concept of cell differentiation because it is a process that bioengineers study in order to develop new treatments that will help to repair damaged tissues. We want kids to take away the concept that a cell can mature into many different specialized cell types and that bioengineers study this process and use it help patients.
      2 hours ago · 
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering So what's going on in this picture, "Follow the cues: It's great to differentiate?"
    • Carolyn Schutt This is the "game board" for one of the activities we have at our exhibit. Kids will roll giant foam dice to determine how a cell changes into its final specialized cell type. This process depends on several environmental "cues" such as the stiffness of the underlying surface or the forces the cell encounters in the body.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering It seems your exhibit is designed to engage kids and K-12 educators in a conversation about science and science curriculum. What are some of the ways K-12 educators can collaborate with UC San Diego?
    • Carolyn Schutt Yes, our exhibit is a fun interactive experience to get kids interested in the field of bioengineering. We also have materials for parents and K-12 educators to take away. As a special addition this year, we are also introducing the Home Run Science Challenge, which is new Festival-wide program lead by UCSD Bioengineering.
    • Carolyn Schutt The Home Run Science Challenge challenges kids to "run the bases" by visiting five special exhibits at the Festival and verbally answering one question on the related science and engineering concepts of each exhibit. When they answer a question, they will collect a stamp on their worksheet and once they collect five stamps, they will receive an awesome prize. The featured exhibits include UCSD Bioengineering, the UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society, Life Technologies, the BIOCOM Institute, the UCSD Near Space Balloon, the UCSD Briggs Lab , and UCSD K-16 Programs.The kids will keep their worksheets to bring into the classroom to share with their teacher. More information is featured on the website:
    • Carolyn Schutt We are also encouraging K-12 educators to explore classroom partnership opportunities with UCSD students and scientists/engineers through this website. Example activities for such a partnership include having a UCSD graduate student give a special topic workshop or serve as a judge for a school science fair.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering You mention getting kids interested in the field of bioengineering. Is this a novel concept for kids, parents and educators? Do people understand what bioengineering means?
    • Carolyn Schutt Bioengineering is a relatively new field and we are excited to promote it to the public, including kids, parents, and educators. Bioengineering combines the quantitative aspects of engineering with the fields of biology and medicine. We want make young people aware of this field and the potential it has to make an impact on human health.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Most people are familiar with the standard K-12 science curriculum from their own experience taking biology, earth science, chemistry and physics. What does a high school graduate need to know to succeed in a bioengineering program as an undergraduate?
    • Carolyn Schutt A high school graduate can expect there to be a heavy emphasis on math and physics. As a bioengineering student, you will be applying these areas to biology. To enter into this field of study, you don't need to have any specific "bioengineering" experience beforehand.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering I understand more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students are volunteering on this exhibit? What are they all doing? And how can others get involved in this work? Do you have opportunities for alumni working in local industry to volunteer?
    • Carolyn Schutt Our over 50 volunteers are distributed among our three related programs: the UCSD Bioengineering Department exhibit, the UCSD Biomedical Engineering Society exhibit, and the Home Run Science Challenge. Next year we will be looking for as many volunteers to help out once again. This year, most of our volunteers are students, but we would love for alumni to bring their families to the festival and to connect with UCSD Bioengineering for joint outreach opportunities. We are always looking for more ways to get alumni involved and to foster connections with local industry.
    • Carolyn Schutt One of our goals this year is also to create a dialogue with K-12 educators about engineering, and help to build awareness of engineering study with high school students.
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Carolyn. I'm sure you will have a great event on Saturday. How should students, alumni, and K-12 educators get in touch with your program if they would like to work with you and participate in this dialogue about engineering?
    • Carolyn Schutt Thank you for this opportunity! This has been great. Students, alumni, and K-12 educators can contact our program at to continue this dialogue and get involved with our outreach programs. More information is featured at our
    • UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering There you have it. It's going to be a gorgeous weekend so we hope you're all going to the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering this weekend. Be sure to stop by the Department of Bioengineering's exhibit! Thanks again Carolyn and all the student volunteers who are making this important contribution!