Convergence - Issue 8

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The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara

Life-Saving Sand Next Stop Mars Silicon and Beyond That Vision Thing SUMMER 2008, EIGHT

Letter From the Deans

“High energy.” We often hear people describe Engineering and the Sciences at UCSB exactly that way. Typically they’re referring to our highly productive faculty and motivated students. But in addition to that, we’re increasingly seeing ourselves as “high energy” when it comes to global warming and the energy crisis. We’re in a great position to make a significant impact increasing the world’s energy efficiency; we already have several well-developed programs and centers on campus with suburb talent and excellent track records. We are international leaders in:

•  Solid state lighting

•  Energy-efficient electronics

•  Organic photovoltaic materials

•  Efficient cars

•  Energy enhancement for the developing world

Since the energy crisis is more about demand than supply, an aggressive focus on improving efficiency – at an average of 3 to 4% annually over the century – could mean a world where everyone can live well without risk to the climate. At UCSB we are creating a wide range of technological solutions that are practical and marketable, and are likely to lead to outstanding teaching and research opportunities and new ventures.

Matthew Tirrell Dean, College of Engineering

Steven Gaines Acting Dean of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences, College of Letters & Science

Evelyn Hu Co-Director, California NanoSystems Institute


summer 2007, eight


Cover Story: Life-Saving Sand Galen Stucky takes the chemistry of “boiling� rocks into new frontiers of first aid.

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First Jobs, Fresh Insights


Next Stop Mars From Antarctica to the red planet, Luann Becker is on a quest for signs of ancient life.

question & answer:


Unlocking the cellular, molecular and genetic secrets that could save sight for millions.

What is This?

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech



That Vision Thing

Virgil Elings

20 Shorts...

Have you heard?

Silicon and Beyond

Has the semiconductor revolution run its course? Not quite. Brenda Hartshorn

CONVERGENCE T h e M a g a z i n e o f En g in e e r in g an d th e Sc i en c es at UC S an ta Bar b ar a

Life-Saving Sand UC Santa Barbara’s Galen Stucky takes the chemistry of “boiling stones” into new frontiers of first aid. Photo:101st Airborne Division


cientists sometimes find it hard to explain exactly what impact their research will have in the here and now. Galen Stucky, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara, has no such difficulty with his work on the technology known commercially as QuikClot®. The focus, about as real-world as it gets, is on stopping bleeding and saving lives, including the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

the filtering and separation of liquid or gas compounds. Every gallon of gasoline has been processed through zeolites, Stucky notes, and zeolites are used in laundry detergent to soften the wash water by replacing calcium with sodium. Zeolites have played a role in military first aid since 2002, when the Navy and Marine Corps adopted QuikClot to staunch battlefield wounds (the Army also uses a different coagulant, called HemCon, made from the chitin molecules in shrimp shells). As Stucky and others tell the story, the idea of a zeolite blood-clotting agent came about by accident when inventor Frank Hursey, who was working with absorptive materials, cut himself shaving and stopped the bleeding with a handy zeolite sample. Hursey went on to develop QuikClot and founded Z-Medica Corp., the Connecticut-based company that markets the product. Today all U.S. military branches carry packets of the granulated material, a synthetic zeolite that can quickly be applied to hemorrhaging wounds to kick-start the clotting process.

With faculty positions not only in chemistry and biochemistry but also in biomolecular sciences and materials, Stucky has a wide range of research interests, from biomineralization in marine animals to the production of motor fuel from methane. But he says his work does point to a general theme, which he sums up as “How to use inorganic materials to control chemical and biological processes.” He has recently been drawing on his knowledge of zeolite chemistry to make better blood-clotting agents. Zeolites – the term comes from the Greek words for “boil” and “stone” – are minerals that occur naturally in volcanic formations and have been synthesized in many forms. Highly porous, the rocks can hold huge amounts of water, which causes zeolite rocks to jump around as the water evaporates under rapid heating – hence the “boiling” label. Zeolites are also energetic when they absorb water, easily heating up to water’s boiling point. They have a structure and chemistry that make them highly useful in water purification, oil refining, and other processes that involve

Just how many lives have been saved by this one product? It’s impossible to say for sure, given all the factors that determine the survival rate after battlefield injuries. But along with other advances in first aid and trauma care, QuikClot has contributed to an encouraging trend in


“We can now predictively synthesize inorganic and composite agents that either induce coagulation or prevent coagulation,” Stucky says.

Surface charge of inorganic materials determines assembly and activation of blood clotting proteins and cofactors. military medicine. According to a 2006 study co-authored by Col. John Holcomb, a trauma surgeon who heads the Army’s Institute of Surgical Research, the “case fatality” rate in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 was 9.4. In other words, slightly more than nine out of 100 troops injured but not immediately killed in battle die eventually from their wounds or from complications. In the context of military history, that number reflects a remarkable advance. The case fatality rate was 15.8 in the Vietnam War and 19.1 in World War II. Much earlier, in the U.S. Civil War, Stucky says an injured soldier had a 15% to 20% chance of survival. That amounts to a case fatality rate of at least 80.

On the home front, first responders such as police and paramedics also started to use QuikClot when it was adopted for military use. But the product still needed improvement. Early uses in the field turned up a serious side-effect. The QuikClot “sand” stopped bleeding but also released intense heat that sometimes caused secondor third-degree burns. Stucky got an urgent request from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in mid-2003 to deal with the problem. The ONR gave him a short-term grant to study how to cool the QuikClot without robbing it of its effectiveness. It wanted results ASAP. This was not your typical research grant. “A monumental timescale compression of academic research to field application was required,” Stucky says “and the three-way interfaces


involving Z-Medica, the University, and ONR that made the science and the technology transfer for a medical product possible have been fantastic.” Stucky’s side of the project got under way at UCSB in 2004. Although all the UCSB researchers’ funding came from ONR, they worked closely with people at Z-Medica who were also pursuing independent investigations. Stucky and Z-Medica realized that the burns could be prevented by optimizing the water content of the zeolite while keeping QuikClot’s efficacy. Most of the heat is released in the adsorption of the first small amounts of water, Stucky says, so that QuikClot could be kept much cooler if it were less dehydrated when applied to a wound. Stucky also researched other methods of decreasing the heat. The temperature of adsorption could be controlled by changing the ratios of calcium and sodium; the stronger bonds formed by calcium and water produce more heat than the somewhat weaker sodium bonds. Another method discovered by Stucky’s research group is to add silver ions that can both cool the clotting process and take advantage of silver’s antibiotic property – an important bonus. The new QuikClot was tested in test-tube blood samples and on pigs. It worked, and this year it was released for the first time as an over-the-counter consumer product under the name QuikClot Sport™ Silver. Beyond the improvement of QuikClot, Stucky sees important advances in knowledge from the work that he and Z-Medica have done. “I saw it as an opportunity to get in and understand a biosystem process; and, to create

The new QuikClot was first tested in blood samples and on pigs. It worked. new materials that might provide a helpful interface with living systems,” Stucky says. The blood coagulation cascade, as that process is technically called, is not fully understood. But the technology for controlling it is rapidly moving forward. “We can now predictively synthesize inorganic and composite agents that either induce coagulation or prevent coagulation,” he says. More sophisticated products also may be on the way, such as toothpaste-like clotting agents from bio-active glass, with uniform pores able to deliver antibiotics or other drugs. In short, the chemistry of boiling stones seems destined to save more lives.


First jobs, fresh insights

Professor, UCSB Chemical Engineering

Senior, Riverside Poly High School Class of '76


Next Stop Mars From Antarctica to the red planet, organic geochemist Luann Becker is on a quest for signs of ancient life.


orget all those jokes about little green men. The search for evidence of life beyond Earth is serious business. It’s high on the agenda of space agencies in the U.S. and Europe, and it’s a front-and-center focus for UC Santa Barbara’s Luann Becker.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Going there in person is not an option for the near future, of course. But Becker is doing the next best thing – sending sophisticated hardware to analyze Martian rock, soil and ice for chemical traces of biologic activity.

Becker, a research scientist at UCSB’s Institute for Crustal Studies, has been interested since her gradstudent days in the question of how life started. She sees Mars as a place of possible answers, where the record of early living things (if there were any) might be preserved on or just below the cold, dry Martian surface. Going there in person is not an option for the near future, of course. But Becker is doing the next best thing – sending sophisticated hardware to analyze Martian rock, soil and ice for chemical traces of biologic activity. The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA), being crafted for Becker by engineers at Johns Hopkins University with funding from NASA, has a berth on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, due for launch in 2011 and arrival at Mars in 2013.

MOMA’s Mission As experiments go, scooping up dirt on another planet is a high-cost, high-risk venture. Becker says MOMA will cost some $40 million from initial development to the end of its useful life. With launch still four years away, there will be a long wait for results and plenty of doubt over the prospect of getting any data at all. “You can’t think of a riskier project than to build an instrument, put it on a spacecraft and hope the spacecraft doesn’t crash,” says Becker. But the potential payoff in knowledge is enormous. MOMA is a suite of instruments designed to analyze samples with a technology known as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS or LDMS). Its key advantage over earlier sensors sent to


That would lead to the obvious question: So what happened? Becker suggests that a cataclysmic event that affected both Earth and Mars just under 4 billion years ago – a heavy bombardment from objects in space – could have blasted away most of Mars’ atmosphere, including its water. The more watery Earth might have provided organisms a deepsea refuge that enabled them to survive, multiply and evolve into more complex forms.

Mars is its ability to detect complex organic molecules as large as peptides, the building blocks of proteins. These are less volatile than smaller organic molecules such as amino acids, so they would not have been detected by other mass spectrometers such as the one flown on the Viking mission that landed on Mars in the mid-seventies. Becker notes that MOMA can detect the small organic molecules as well, so that researchers can “interpret the whole spectrum of

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

organics that we should be looking for.” MOMA thus can look not just for specific molecules but also for combinations (such as amino acids with heavier organics) that point to biological activity.

Southern Exposure Testing instruments for the Martian environment is a challenge in itself. No place on or near the Earth’s surface has such an extreme combination of cold, dryness and thin air. Antarctica comes closest, so Becker went there in November 2003 to field-test a pulsed laser device used in the MOMA system to knock off organics from pieces of rock and soil. “We wanted to see how the instrument will work,” she says, “and what will happen to certain minerals when you poke the instrument at them.”

MOMA will have another advantage over earlier Martian probes: access to samples from several feet underground. The ExoMars mission will deploy a Mars rover equipped with a drill that, according to the European Space Agency, can penetrate up to two meters below the surface. Even if its performance in the field is only half that, Becker says it can reach a depth where organic molecules that would have long since vaporized on the surface may be preserved. “The idea is that you can get down far enough below that destructive layer and see some real organics,” she says.

This Antarctic trip was Becker’s second, following a 1998 visit to hunt for meteorites. It also included research on mass extinctions, another topic on which scientists look beyond Earth for answers. Becker and other geologists have done research on the “Great Dying,” a mass extinction of plant and animal species about 250 million years ago that they believe was caused by a massive meteorite impact near Australia. Ancient rocks stay well preserved and largely undisturbed in dry, barren Antarctica, and Becker has found evidence there of meteorite fragments that date from the time of the Great Dying.

The Meaning of (Martian) Life If MOMA detects compounds such as those typically produced by organisms on Earth, this would mean Mars could well have harbored life at some point in its history. As for life today, the chances are very slim that living things as we know them could survive in the harsh Martian surface environment, with its thin, bone-dry atmosphere and constant barrage of cosmic rays. But Becker doesn’t rule out the remote possibility that something could survive underground if water is present.

Scientists in Antarctica have also picked up meteorites that originated on Mars. One of these extraterrestrial rocks had a deep impact on Becker’s career.

Any evidence of life on Mars, past or present, would have huge implications for both life sciences and astronomy. It would shed light on life’s possible origins on Earth and, of course, shake assumptions that life is unique to this planet. It would also help illuminate the early history of Mars and the Solar System. Like the evidence of flowing water at some point in the Martian past, evidence of life would suggest that Mars once was a far different, and more hospitable, planet than it is now.

The Rock that Roared? Labeled ALH84001, it was a magnesium carbonate-rich four-pounder found in the Allan Hills region of Western Antarctica in 1984. Twelve years later, it made headlines when David McKay and other NASA scientists announced that it may contain evidence of microfossils. Becker, then a research scientist at the University of Hawaii, had doubts about the claim. So did her former Ph.D. advisor at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jeffrey L. Bada. Continued on Page 24



q u e s t i o n & a n s w e r:

Virgil Elings Considered a leading entrepreneur in nanotechnology and a devoted educator, Virgil Elings taught at UCSB as a professor of physics for more than 20 years. In 1987, he co-founded Digital Instruments Inc. in Santa Barbara, together with UCSB alumnus Gus Gurley, bringing the first commercially-available scanning probe microscopes to market. These microscopes, which include the Atomic Force Microscope and the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, are used in microscopy and manipulation at the nanometer scale. Elings served as president and chairman of Digital Instruments until 1998, when the firm merged with Veeco Instruments, Inc. Elings received a doctorate in physics from MIT and holds more than 40 patents. He is known for his innovation and business acumen, his local and national philanthropy, and his love of motorcycles. He recently talked with Convergence about education, his own teaching career and the role of the university in preparing students for life after graduation. Q: Research universities tend to teach a more theoretical approach to engineering. What do you think is the right mix of theory and project learning? Elings: It involves the question of what should be learned. There’s a big difference between teaching and learning. What counts is whether the students learn anything. The way school operates, we’re all treated the same. We all get the same test. But there’s a better way to learn – project learning. You give people, in a group or individually, a problem to solve, something to make. And it turns out that making something work amounts to much more than getting 80% on a test. The skill these students learn is how to function given their unique talents. But you must have been attracted to theory; you got a PhD in physics. I was brainwashed by the system. Everyone who has a PhD is brainwashed. They tell you the educators are the smartest guys you’ll ever see. But you aren’t what you eat. You aren’t the sum of the courses you take. What attracted you to UCSB when you joined the faculty in 1966? And what caused you to develop and run the instrumentation program here? I was offered a job teaching physics. Soon you’re in the groove and you don’t notice you’re stuck. I developed the instrumentation program at UCSB because I realized I wasn’t liking standard academia and I didn’t fit into it. As a faculty member, your job is to raise funds and write papers. I didn’t like that. I liked teaching, but you couldn’t tell if you were doing any good. With projects, you can see the results. I remember back in high school – I went to a technical high school – I made a drill press. It was one of my best


projects; I still keep it on my fireplace hearth. There weren’t many made; people usually don’t make drill presses in high school. What I appreciated most was the self grading aspect of the work; I could tell myself, “This was done well.” Standard teaching has long been about courses and labs. Labs are really just recipes and equipment. At first our applications for the instrumentation program for funding from the National Science Foundation didn’t come through, so we had students look around campus for projects that needed doing. I noticed later, after funding came through for more formal labs, that the project students did better. They had to think because there was no recipe. The instrumentation lab allowed us to switch from focusing on teaching to focusing on learning. The students had to know more about their projects than I did. The goal for the students was to improve. It was fun to see these grownup people, for the first time in their lives, surprised to see something they had worked on long and hard didn’t work. One guy was in tears one day. But you’ve got to get the students used to failure, learning from their bad approach to a problem and then re-trying.

It sounds like there was a turning point in your teaching when you decided you had to approach things differently. I remember it well. I was teaching Physics I for non-science majors and was discussing Coulomb’s Law about the force of attraction between charges, doing a demo with charged pith balls. I noticed the room was quiet and wondered if everyone was asleep, so I decided I’d start asking the students a few questions. So I said, “What is a fuse?” and I got “I don’t know” from three students. And then the fourth student said, “It’s like a battery; it burns out.” It was then that I realized I was wasting these people’s time. I threw the textbook on the floor and decided I‘d start teaching about the world around us. I’d ask, “What is a flame?” “How does a phonograph work?” That’s what we did for the rest of the class. But that one day – wow – I wondered why I had never noticed this before. It hurts when you think you have been doing the right thing for years, and then you discover in one minute that you were wrong. Why is the project focus effective in helping students learn what they need to know? It’s all about learning to grade yourself, to learn to be constantly self-correcting. What makes people good is their ability to continue to self-correct, to get themselves out of a maze. The great thing about employees who know how to self-correct is that they can solve problems they encounter, if they are given the freedom to do that. How did you go from teaching to starting a highly successful company? I started with Santa Barbara Technology, in my garage, with a few students in there soldering. I worked with David Nicoli, developing laser light scattering particle sizing instruments, in a firm called Nicomp Instruments. We sold it, and not only did I then have some money to invest, but I’d practiced business and had a feel for how to mark a product up and charge more than it costs, but not too much. The hard part was getting started, getting over the fear.

It’s all about learning to grade yourself, to learn to be constantly self-correcting. What makes people good is their ability to continue to self-correct, to get themselves out of a maze. Based on your experience with Digital Instruments, do you think it’s possible to teach management? Can I teach you tennis by giving you a lecture? I have to give you a racket and a ball. If it were up to me, I’d get rid of the MBA programs. Why are most of the successful businesses now not started by MBAs?


Universities today: What do you think is wrong with them? They think course content is very important but in the long run, it means very little. They won’t change. Priorities are such that people still want to do their prestige activities and it leaves the education itself as a byproduct. Universities like to boast that “our students do well in life.” To that I say, “I’m sorry, didn’t you pick the top 2%? If they didn’t succeed, then I’d say you’ve screwed them up.” So what’s the purpose of an undergraduate education, then? I used to claim it kept people off the streets, but the drugs and dangers at most universities are just as great as they are in the streets. I guess it gives students four years to think about things and get older before having to set a direction in life. You know, I’ve never seen a course in academia that teaches innovation, and that’s one of the strengths Americans are supposed to have. Can a highly creative person survive long in a typical company? And what should companies do to attract the best and the brightest? No. You can only get promoted in most businesses if you’re willing to kiss your boss’s ass. People get promoted based on whether their immediate boss is happy. A problem with a lot of companies is that they want you to be part of the team, and that can make it hard to voice ideas without causing trouble. It’s easy to get labeled as “wacky.” And “wacky” gets to feel uncomfortable after awhile, so people will stop voicing what they think and be part of the team. You really have to start your own company or find one that’s creative. Companies need to hire talent, not experience. You know, you watch movies from the 80’s, and you read the credits, and the people who weren’t stars then haven’t risen up to be stars now. You have to hire star quality and give them the freedom to create. Twenty years from now, how do you want people to think of you? That I’m 20 years older. No – seriously – here’s this guy who thought differently than others. And guess what? He didn’t fail.

Virgil's Maxims

You can't know what you're doing. (Keep your eyes wide open to the possibilities and don't think you know exactly what needs to be done next). Hire talent, not experience. (No one has any experience in the future, but smart people will do better). Get everyone on a different page. (If everyone's on the same page, who will find the surprises?) Encourage “negative” thoughts. (Keep asking, "What is wrong that needs fixing?") Forget the plan and look for the surprises. (Tell the difference between how you want it to be and how it really is). Customers don't really know what they want. (Surprise them. Wow them. But don't look for them to be able to see around the corner for you). Choose a path that can be changed at any time, and be willing to change it. (Most people are so married to their plan, they fight the need to change direction because they think they know what they are doing). Grade yourself. Then you don't need a manager. (Be honest with yourself and ready to make regular mid-course corrections). Fly coach. (Be a model of humility, efficiency and frugality). Stay unfocused. (Highly-focused people ignore surprises and opportunities).


Silicon and Has the semiconductor revolution run its course? Not quite, say these researchers, who are working on new materials and looking for a miracle or two.


o understand the SRC Nonclassical CMOS Research Center, a joint project of electrical engineering and materials experts from UC Santa Barbara and other leading universities, it helps to know some terminology and some history. SRC is the Semiconductor Research Corporation, a nonprofit consortium funded by technology firms. It supports the Nonclassical CMOS Research Center, set up in 2006, with a 3-year, $7 million grant. CMOS stands for “complementary metal-oxide semiconductor” and refers to transistors made from metal or polysilicon electrodes and oxide (usually silicon dioxide) insulators. The CMOS model is a mainstay of microprocessors, memory and other key elements of modern computing and electronics. “Nonclassical” refers to the center’s mission – to move beyond the standard silicon technology, which is hitting its natural limits. This is where the history comes in. Mark Rodwell, a UCSB professor of electrical and computer engineering who leads the center’s devicefabrication effort, says the challenges faced today were long foreseeable, and to some degree foreseen, by the silicon industry. Up to now, chipmakers have boosted silicon chip performance mainly through scaling – that is, shrinking the conductors and the spaces between them to shorten the distance traveled by electrons. Rodwell says the principles for this process were set out in the 1970s by IBM scientist Robert H. Dennard and others, and “Dennard’s scaling laws,” as they are called, have been the industry’s rulebook ever since.

Lurking behind the issue of too-thin insulators is a fundamental fact: You can shrink transistors, but you can’t shrink the atoms from which they’re made. That’s no longer just a theoretical problem. Chris Palmstrøm, leading the center’s research on the integration of transistor materials, says device sizes are heading to a scale at which insulators and channels are just a few atoms wide (a silicon atom is about one-fifth of a nanometer in diameter). Not only are they more leaky at this size, they are less definite and predictable. “Part of the problem is that you go from classical physics to quantum mechanics,” says Palmstrøm, who will be moving from the University of Minnesota to the UCSB Materials faculty this year. Structures that acted as solid walls and conduits at larger sizes begin to dissolve into particles moving randomly in indefinite positions. The power needed to keep current flowing where it should is so high that the device overheats. “At some point,” he says, “you can no longer make this thing work classically.”

Non-Silicon Options So scaling has basic limits and they are being reached now. The good news is that scaling is not the only way to improve semiconductor performance. Manufacturers can use mechanical strain to increase electron mobility by changing the space between silicon atoms. They also know they can get much bigger boosts by using so-called III-V compounds

The insulator, made from silicon dioxide becomes too thin to prevent leakage of gate electrode. “It goes to hell in a hand right around one nanometer,” Rodwell s

Dissolving Walls Scaling laws dictate certain size ratios for a transistor’s various parts, such as the silicon path for current, the metal or polysilicon “gate electrode” that extends along the path and turns the current on and off, and the oxide insulator between the gate electrode and the path. If the length of the gate electrode shrinks, for instance, the insulator has to be thinner as well. Rodwell says gate lengths in today’s transistors have reached a point, down to about 45 nanometers, where the proportionality rule starts to cause serious problems. The insulator, made from silicon dioxide in classical CMOS, becomes too thin to prevent leakage of electrons to the gate electrode. “It goes to hell in a hand-basket rapidly, right around one nanometer,” he says.

as semiconductors (the roman numerals refer to the number of electrons available for bonding in each of the two combined elements). These are substances, such as Gallium Arsenide or Indium Phosphide, in which two atoms together work like a single atom of silicon but electrons in these materials move much faster, about four times silicon speed. Compound semiconductors are already used in cell phones and other electronics where their relatively high cost and fragility are no barriers. There are non-silicon options in insulators as well. Scientists have been developing new compounds as replacements for silicon dioxide.



in classical CMOS, electrons to the d-basket rapidly, says.

Brenda Hartshorn

Mark Rodwell, a professor of electrical engineering.

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hafnium oxide to silicon is trickier. The interface at the These alternative materials are the focus of the center, which atomic level is not as close a match, and there are more draws on faculty and facilities at UCSB, Stanford, UC San dangling bonds to interfere with electron flow. Stemmer says Diego, the University of Minnesota and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It includes 11 researchers, six this problem can be solved by separating the hafnium oxide from UCSB, who work in four groups. One, led by Paul from the silicon with a thin film – “just a few atomic layers” – McIntyre, an associate professor of materials science and of silicon dioxide. But no such fix is available with non-silicon engineering at Stanford, is developing dielectrics (insulating semiconductors. materials). It includes Palmstrøm, UC San Diego Chemistry “Interfacing III-V Professor semiconductors Andrew and oxides Kummel and is incredibly two members difficult,” says of the UCSB Stemmer, Materials who examines faculty, interfaces Professor Chris using atomic Van de Walle resolution imaging and Associate techniques. Professor Researchers have Susanne not come up with Stemmer. The a way to passivize device design these zones, she group is lead Graduate student Mark Wistey using the molecular beam epitaxy machine says, nor have by UC San where the III-V materials are fabricated. they had much Diego electrical luck getting the and computer transistor gates to close (in effect the device is stuck in the engineering professor Yuan Taur, and includes his colleague “on” position). Moreover, says McIntyre, III-V compounds Peter Asbeck as well as UMass ECE Professor Max tend not to behave well in the presence of oxygen. Put silicon Fischetti. Device fabrication is led by Mark Rodwell in next to silicon dioxide and the worst you get is more silicon collaboration with UCSB Materials Professor Art Gossard . dioxide. Expose gallium arsenide to an oxide, he says, and you The integration group, led by Palmstrøm, includes Asbeck, get something much messier. “Gallium will be removed from Stemmer, McIntyre and Stanford ECE Professor James the channel and excess arsenic will be left behind,” McIntyre Harris. UCSB’s nanofabrication laboratory is the center’s says. This “creates a huge number of defects in the channel.” main venue for testing theory and (hopefully) coming up Another non-silicon semiconductor, germanium, also has with devices that work. “lots of problems,” says the theorist Van de Walle. For instance, it forms dangling bonds that are negatively charged The goal of all this brainpower and advanced fabrication and thus cannot be passivized with hydrogen. sounds uncomplicated: To develop technology that Four “Miracles” Needed? combines the virtues of silicon and nonclassical materials. Silicon is strong, it’s relatively cheap and the industry is used Rodwell sums up the task ahead as requiring four “miracles.” to working with it. III-V semiconductors are fragile and The first is to create “a decent dielectric interface.” The expensive, but fast. New dielectrics, such as hafnium oxide, second is to figure out how to grow nonclassical material on do not need to be proportionally as thin as silicon dioxide a silicon wafer. The third is to make the new transistor work under scaling laws. Gate lengths thus can be shorter. Put all properly, given that the lighter and more mobile electrons this together and you get faster, smaller transistors. are consequently larger (under quantum theory) and harder to keep in their channels. The fourth is not exactly a miracle Trouble at the Interface “but just extremely hard work,” he says: “Someone has to Only it’s not that easy. The basic problem is that Rodwell, build the transistors, and that’s me.” Palmstrøm, McIntyre and their colleagues, along with much of the semiconductor industry, are trying to improve on a model that, within its limits, is just about perfect. Any “UCSB has established a reputation aroun change makes the model more complex and introduces potential flaws. For instance, silicon not only is ideal perhaps the best place for III-V materials a for making the large, ultra-flat wafers demanded by the molecular-beam epitaxy,” McIntyre says. industry, it also bonds cleanly with its insulator, silicon dioxide. There are “no broken bonds, no free electrons dangling around,” Rodwell says. When such imperfections do appear, they can be erased through passivation, a process in which hydrogen atoms bond to stray electrons. Grafting


As for the notion that semiconductor technology is finally hitting the wall, Van de Walle says this is nothing new. “People have been saying we’re getting close for 20 years now, but whenever they say that, someone comes up with an approach that actually stretches the potential of CMOS technology.” Palmstrøm is not sure if the new research effort will succeed. But that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm. “Scientifically and technologically,” he says, “it’s a fantastic challenge.”

But if the challenge looms large, so does the hope that the CMOS center’s resources might be equal to it. McIntyre says the group benefits from a “very well integrated team” whose expertise covers the bases from theory to production, advanced microscopy and other instrumentation, and a focus on the key problem of growing metal oxides. He also cites the crucial role of UCSB’s Nanofabrication Facility, a part of the National Nanotechnology Nanostructure Network. “UCSB has established a reputation around the world for being perhaps the best place for III-V materials and device fabrication using molecular-beam epitaxy,” he says. (Molecular-beam epitaxy, or MBE, is a high-vacuum method of growing thin crystalline films). He says UCSB’s III-V focus complements the more “silicon-centric” Stanford.

nd the world for being and device fabrication using

III-V Integrated circuit.

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UC Santa Barbara’s Center for the Study of Macular Degeneration is unlocking the cellular, molecular and genetic secrets that could save sight for millions.


he human eye is a wonder of nature that has not given up all its mysteries, at least not yet. One of these is why, with age, it so often deteriorates in a way that leads progressively to blindness. Is this disease inevitable, just the price of growing old? Or can it be stopped?

CSMD, set up in 1995 as a research unit within UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Institute, focuses on age-related macular degeneration, usually referred to as AMD. It had a more informal start earlier in the decade in the sharing of ideas between Anderson and two other scientists. One of them, research biologist Lincoln V. Johnson, was at the University of Southern California and came to UCSB in 1995. The other, Gregory Hageman, had worked with Johnson in post-doctoral research during the 1980s and then went to the University of Iowa, where he is a professor of ophthalmology and visual science. Johnson says the three shared a common interest in macular degeneration and started a close collaboration that has continued to this day.

Scientists with UCSB’s Center for the Study of Macular Degeneration (CSMD) believe it can be stopped and have been working toward that goal for more than a decade. Focusing on the cells, proteins and genetic factors that affect the aging eye, they have shed light on what really happens when sight declines. In the process, they are showing the way toward drugs that could eventually prevent or reverse this all-too-common condition. “I hate to be in the prediction business determining when a drug will be available,” says Don Anderson, a research biologist and director of CSMD. But the center’s work is giving potential drug developers a clearer idea of the chain of events that leads to macular degeneration, and of what might be done to stop it. Anderson says CSMD has achieved breakthroughs in basic research that now enable it to move to the “application phase” – finding ways to put that research to work.

A Timely Target Why macular degeneration? “It was an acute and growing problem in society because of the aging population,” says Johnson. The disease was (and is) a timely target. According to the National Eye Institute, AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries, and is widespread among the elderly in this country. The NEI estimated in 2004 that more than 1.7 million Americans had advanced AMD with vision loss.


“I hate to be in the prediction business determining when a drug will be available,” says Don Anderson. But the center’s work is giving potential drug developers a clearer idea of the chain of events that leads to macular degeneration, and of what might be done to stop it.

found drusen to contain at least a dozen proteins that were associated with the complement system, as part of the cascade or in regulating it.

Another 7.3 million had intermediate AMD and were at substantial risk of losing vision. The aging of the Baby Boomers will make the disease even more common unless more effective treatments for it are found. The NEI projected that 2.9 million would have advanced AMD by 2020.

Focusing on Factor H In 2001 and 2002, they published articles laying out these results. “We concluded that drusen were actually consequences of local inflammation,” says Anderson. “That set the stage for targeting the complement system as a likely factor in AMD.” Working with a number of other U.S. and European scientists including Rando Allikmets, a Columbia University geneticist specializing in eye disorders, they analyzed the genetic basis of the complement proteins in drusen and homed in on one in particular – the complement regulator protein Factor H. They found that a variant of the Factor H gene, present in about 20% to 25% of Americans of European origin, was associated with a high susceptibility to AMD. Those having one copy of the variant were two to three time more susceptible to the disease; two copies raised the risk by a factor of six or seven.

AMD attacks the macula (Latin for “spot”), an area on the retina that is dense with cone cells designed for high acuity. Its breakdown affects the center of vision, impairing the ability to read, drive or do anything else that requires visual focus. With so little known about the cause of AMD, scientists have been limited to trial-anderror methods for treating symptoms. For early AMD, Vitamin E and antioxidants seem to do some good. Drugs also have been developed to treat the “wet” form of AMD, marked by abnormal growth of blood vessels. These medicines are effective, but they must be injected regularly into the eye. They also catch the disease at a late stage and they only help one part of the AMD population. Anderson says only about 10% to 15% of those diagnosed with early AMD eventually get the “wet” form. Anderson, Johnson and Hageman took a different line of attack, seeking to understand the molecular and cellular basis of AMD so that drugs might be developed to keep it from starting in the first place. The three started by focusing on the composition of drusen (German for “geodes”), the yellow or white deposits that accumulate at the macula in early AMD. Screening a large number of human eyes using antibodies, they found that drusen contained vitronectin, a protein that regulates the complement cascade, a chain reaction in which proteins of the immune system identify and kill microbes.

In 2005, Hageman, Anderson Johnson, Allikmets and their co-workers published these results, Anderson says this news of a genetic connection to AMD developed into a “fairly dramatic media event,” with Hageman briefing members of Congress and their staffs on the discovery, and federal health officials heralding it as a validation of the Human Genome Project.

That was the initial pathway discovery for us,” says Anderson. It suggested that the formation of drusen may be the result of an immune response. They eventually


Applying this knowledge to the prevention and cure of AMD could be a long and uncertain process. But Anderson and Johnson say several therapeutic routes have emerged from the CSMD’s research. Since AMD is linked to inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs – a class that includes aspirin and ibuprofin) might be useful in treating the disease. Gene therapy is another option. Anderson says a virus might be programmed “to coax the liver into making good Factor H” (the liver is a major source of complement proteins). It also may be possible to develop a drug that mimics the action of good Factor H. With any of these approaches, Anderson says it would not be necessary to prevent AMD permanently, just to postpone it to a point beyond the typical lifespan. “If you could delay the disease by 10 or 20 years, you would effectively cure it,” he says

Beyond AMD The center’s work on AMD may be just a starting point for understanding and treating some of the most common diseases of aging. Anderson says the Factor H research may prove relevant wherever there is an “inflammatory component,” as is the case in Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis. CSMD also has plenty of knowledgeproducing potential in its technology. Helped by funding from the National Eye Institute, it has “managed to put together an impressive genomics and proteomics laboratory,” says Dennis Clegg, professor and chairman of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSB. Clegg, a neurobiologist who specializes in cell adhesion and retinal development, has his lab next-door to CSMD and says he collaborates with it “quite heavily” (he is also a CSMD member and works with Johnson on research into the use of embryonic stem cells to replace damaged eye cells). The CSMD lab has advanced equipment for automated genomic analysis, enabling researchers to look at the process of gene expression – the conversion of a gene’s DNA sequence into RNA and proteins – at any stage of a disease. This is “an invaluable technique to have in your repertoire,” Clegg says. Likewise for the CSMD as a whole. The center offers a model of long, successful collaboration that may prove to be invaluable for many other researchers fighting many other diseases.

Upper figure: Microscopic image of drusen deposits that characterize age-related macular degeneration. Spherical structures embedded in drusen contain beta amyloid, a peptide associated with plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Middle figure: Higher resolution image showing the concentric ring-like structure of the amyloid spheres. Lower figure: A molecular model of the spheres based upon their structural appearance in the electron microscope.


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UC Santa Barbara Physicist David Gross, who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, has been elected a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the country. Election to the APS honors extraordinary accomplishments in all fields of intellectual endeavor. Gross is director of UCSB's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), where he holds the Frederick W. Gluck Chair. He was one of 52 new members selected by his peers to join the distinguished society. Since 1900, more than 260 members of the society have received the Nobel Prize. Today, the American Philosophical Society honors and engages leading scholars, scientists and professionals through elected membership, and supports research, discovery and education through grants and fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes, and exhibitions. Patrick Daugherty, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UCSB has won the Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes an outstanding young contributor (awardees must be 40 years old or younger) to the field of biochemical technology based on the originality and significance of their work. The Society recognized Daugherty for his “outstanding contributions to the field of protein engineering, including the development of novel peptide display methodologies, fluorescent protein sensors and library screening methodologies.”

Daugherty has developed novel peptide display methods that target the sites of disease to minimize drug side effects and increase efficacy. Daugherty will deliver the Biochemical Technology Young Investigator Award Lecture at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston in August. The award, which includes a $3,000 prize, is sponsored by Genentech, Inc. Daugherty’s research interests focus on developing and applying methods to diagnosis and treat disease by applying emerging biotechnologies to molecular and cellular engineering. Daugherty’s group has developed methods to create from scratch ‘tailor-made’ biomolecules that could allow earlier and more accurate diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. Daugherty has received the Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award in 2006, a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2005, and the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Research Award in 2003. David Awschalom, a professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, the academy announced May 1. The National Academy of Sciences is the country's most prestigious


scientific organization, and election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. The election of Awschalom brings to a total of 26 the number of current UCSB faculty members who have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The Computer Science Department and faculty in the College of Engineering here won three significant campus awards for departmental mentorship, graduate mentorship, and distinguished teaching: The CS Department was awarded the Departmental Graduate Mentorship Award for its “exemplary efforts to recruit and retain top candidates, distribute funding resources effectively and to create an environment conducive to student success.” Given by the Graduate Council and Graduate


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News and Events from Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara Division, the decision was based on department data, results from the Doctoral Exit Survey and statistics from the Office of Budget and Planning that showed median time to degree, graduation rates and number of degrees conferred. The Academic Senate gave the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award to Amr El Abbadi, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, for excellence in mentoring graduate students. The Academic Senate honored Kevin Almeroth, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Associate Dean of the College of Engineeriing, with the Distinguished Teaching Award, for excellence in teaching at UCSB.

The College of Engineering’s Materials Science Department ranks second in total citations among U.S. universities for a 10-year period – 1996 to 2006 – according to Thomson Scientific, based in Philadelphia, PA.

James McKernan, a professor of mathematics here, was awarded the Clay Research Award by the Clay Mathematics Institute in May. The award recognizes major mathematical breakthroughs. McKernan shares the award with Christopher Hacon, associate professor at the University of Utah, for their work in advancing understanding of the "birational geometry of algebraic varieties in dimension greater than three, in particular, for their inductive proof of the existence of flips." Awardees receive one year of flexible research support and a bronze sculpture. The Clay Mathematics Institute is a private, non-profit foundation based in Cambridge, Mass., dedicated to increasing and disseminating mathematical knowledge.

The UCSB chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA) was awarded the “2007 Project of the Year” at the EWB-USA International Conference in Amherst, Massachusetts, for its ongoing project in Araypallpa, Peru. The award comes with a $5,000 prize donated by BoldeReach, a community of women dedicated to supporting organizations that aid those in extreme need around the world. The UCSB chapter was asked by the rural community of Araypallpa to help implement sustainable engineering projects to improve health, education and quality of life in the farming village of about 300 people. EWB at UCSB, now with about 40 active members, was founded in October, 2003 and has partnered with communities in Peru, Mali and Thailand on projects including solar

The ranking demonstrates how other professors in the field perceive the relevance and significance of the work at UCSB’s College of Engineering. It is a measurable sign of both the value of the research and its applicability to other research occurring worldwide. In addition, the Physics department here ranked first in citations per paper and fourth among U.S. universities in total citations among other institutions in Physics for the 10-year period, 19952005. The data, from Thomson Scientific’s Essential Science Indicators (ESI), is a resource that enables researchers to conduct ongoing, quantitative analyses of research performance and track trends in science. Covering a multidisciplinary selection of more than 11,000 journals worldwide, this analytical tool offers data for ranking scientists, institutions, countries, and journals.

power, water purification, sanitation, and bio-fuel production. Membership is open to all, including students, staff, and community members.. Managed by volunteers, all donations go directly to cover equipment, supplies, and travel required for each project. EWB-UCSB won the “Sustainable Legacy Award” and the Thomas P. Waters Foundation Grant last year for their efforts in Peru.



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adopted by certain bacteria, such as hemobartonella, that adhere to RBCs and can remain in circulation for several weeks. Mitragotri says this mode of prolonging particle circulation has significant implications in drug delivery, potentially leading to new treatments for a broad variety of conditions such as cancer, blood clots and heart disease. The research was supported by the Institute of Collaborative Biotechnologies and the National Institutes of Health, Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology. Researchers at UCSB and at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have shown that a particular genetic modification enables mice to acquire new color vision. Their findings, which could have implications for understanding the evolution of color vision and other sensory systems in mammals, was published in the March 23 issue of Science.

Red blood cells, some with nanoparticles attached, in the bloodstream. Researchers here have discovered that attaching polymeric nanoparticles to the surface of red blood cells dramatically increases the in- vivo lifetime of the nanoparticles. The research, published in the July 7 of Experimental Biology and Medicine, could offer applications for the delivery of drugs and circulating bioreactors. Polymeric nanoparticles are excellent carriers for delivering drugs. They protect drugs from degradation until they reach their target and provide sustained release of drugs. Polymeric nanoparticles, however, suffer from one major limitation: they are quickly removed from the blood, sometimes in minutes, rendering them ineffective in delivering drugs.

The research team, led by Samir Mitragotri, a professor of chemical engineering, and Elizabeth Chambers, a recent doctoral graduate, found that nanoparticles can be forced to remain in circulation when attached to red blood cells. The particles eventually detach from the blood cells due to shear forces and cell-to-cell interactions, and are cleared from the system by the liver and spleen. Red blood cell circulation is not affected by attaching the nanoparticles. The researchers have learned that particles adhered to red blood cells can escape phagocytosis because red blood cells have a knack for evading macrophages. Nanoparticles aren’t the first to be piggybacking on red blood cells; the strategy has already been


Gerald Jacobs, research professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Research Institute at UCSB, and Jeremy Nathans, M.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, are the article's lead authors. The researchers demonstrated in a series of color vision tests that the genetic modification allows mice to see and distinguish among a broader spectrum of light waves. The experiments were designed to determine whether the brains of the genetically altered mice could efficiently process sensory information from the new photoreceptors in their eyes. Among mammals, this more complex type of color vision has only been observed in primates, and therefore the brains of mice did not need to evolve to make these discriminations. The new abilities of the genetically engineered mice suggest that the mammalian brain possesses a flexibility that permits a nearly instantaneous upgrade in the complexity of color vision.


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The researchers conducted tens of thousands of tests in which two different wavelengths or intensities of light were displayed on three test panels. The genetically altered mice demonstrated their new visual ability by choosing the correct panel in 80 percent of the trials. By contrast, normal mice only chose correctly one third of the time. The findings have implications for the evolution of sensory systems in general. Five young faculty members at UCSB received prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the prestigious awards in support of the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. The winning UCSB faculty members and their projects are: Song-I Han, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will receive $734,000 to develop novel contrast mechanisms for nuclear magnetic resonance that highlight molecule-specific functions of materials and processes by targeted signal enhancement of selected fluid molecules. Volkan Rodoplu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will receive $400,000 to develop methodologies for tracking and disseminating quality of service metrics in mobile, wireless networks of microprocessor-sensor devices. Todd Squires, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, will receive $400,000 for a theoretical and experimental program that involves the development of microfluidic systems.

Tommaso Treu, an assistant professor of physics, will receive $708,000 for a project entitled "Dark Matter and Black Holes Over Cosmic Time." Todd H. Oakley, an assistant professor of ecology, evolution & marine biology, will receive $600,000 for a project entitled "Exploring Congruence of Fossil and Molecular Estimates of Macroevolutionary Divergence Times in Ostracoda (Crustacea)." The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and sponsoring cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Daniel Morse, a UC Santa Barbara professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry and the director of the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, is the first scholar appointed to the Wilcox Family Chair in Biotechnology. The Wilcox professorship was established recently with a $700,000 gift from Gary and Susan Wilcox, who are both distinguished UCSB alumni, volunteer leaders, and longtime campus benefactors. Endowed chairs are highly prized academic positions that enable a university to attract and retain distinguished scholars and to develop more fully a field of study by providing ongoing financial support for enhanced research and instruction. Morse received his B.A. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1967. He conducted postdoctoral studies in molecular genetics at Stanford University. He served as the Silas Arnold Houghton Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School before coming to UC Santa Barbara in 1972.


Morse has been the recipient of a Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society. He also has been honored as a Distinguished Faculty Scholar by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and served as a Visiting Professor in Japan and at the University of Paris. He was elected a Regents Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. UCSB won a $2.26 million grant for stem cell research facilities by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The grant will be used to support the design and development of a shared laboratory to expand existing stem cell studies and to stimulate new investigations of the biology and engineering of stems cells at UCSB and other nearby research institutions. CIRM was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, a statewide ballot measure which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions. UC Santa Barbara also won a grant from CIRM in 2006 for the training of pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical fellows. Written and reported by staff writers and editors, and by staff from the Office of Public Affairs.

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Next Stop Mars Temporarily barred from getting samples of ALH840001, Becker and Bada analyzed another Martian meteorite found in Antarctica, EETA79001, and argued that its organics were probably not connected to extraterrestrial life. When they later got a chance to sample ALH840001, they concluded that its organic matter seemed mainly to be from terrestrial sources, with a small portion that fit the profile of organics found in other meteorites and not biological in origin. The debate was lively, if civil. “This was the first time I had gotten myself into a little tit-for-tat,” Becker says. It also had a dramatic effect on space exploration. Becker says it “revolutionized the way NASA looked at Mars,” reviving efforts – largely abandoned after the Viking landings of the 1970s – to revisit Mars to look for evidence of life and eventually pave the way for manned flights. She says the series of Mars missions planned in coming years by NASA and ESA – along with projects like MOMA – may owe their existence (and funding) to the fuss kicked up by ALH840001. Were it not for that chunk of space rock, Becker also might not be spending her time in elaborate preparations for a Martian dig six years from now. But the meteorite has done its work, MOMA is moving forward, and Becker sees a niche possibly opening for UCSB as a center of research into exotic new fields such as extraterrestrial geochemistry. Becker says she wants to involve as many students and postdocs as possible in MOMA, since, as she notes, “It’s not everyday you get to do something like this.”


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CONVERGENCE The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara

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SUMMER 2007, EIGHT Editor in Chief: Barbara Bronson Gray Creative Director: Peter Allen Senior Writer: Tom Gray Editorial Board:

When large amounts of unfolded proteins accumulate in a yeast cell’s endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a response is activated, and a signal is transmitted from the ER to the nucleus via the membranespanning kinase Ire1p. Professor Frank Doyle and chemical engineering graduate student Scott Hildebrandt are currently modeling the unfolded protein response mathematically using a systems biology approach.

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