Jan. 30, 2006 ‹ The Nanotechnology Foundation
of Texas (NFT) has awarded Rice University doctoral
student Vinit Murthy its 2006 George Kozmetsky
Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Nanotechnology.
The award includes a $5,000 prize.
and Shravanthi Reddy of the University of Texas
at Austin earned top honors in the Kozmetsky competition,
which drew stiff competition from the state¹s
leading research universities. Only 14 out of a
possible 600 points separated the top four finalists,
which represented diverse fields, including medicine,
engineering and natural science.
Murthy, a fifth-year chemical engineering Ph.D.
student in the research group of Michael Wong, assistant
professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering
and assistant professor of chemistry, studies nanoparticle
assembly. Along with Wong, he co-discovered a simple
method to encapsulate any water-soluble compound
easily and without damage.
method is the most environmentally sensitive approach
yet devised for making tiny hollow spheres called
microcapsules. Microcapsule research is one of
the most active fields in applied nanotechnology,
with dozens of companies either developing or using
the tiny containers usually smaller than living
cells to deliver everything from drugs and
imaging agents to perfumes and flavor enhancers.
³Nanoparticle-assembled capsules are particularly
interesting because their properties can be tailored
for specific applications,² Murthy said. ³Because
our method works at room temperature and uses water
as a solvent, it¹s cleaner, cheaper and easier
than existing methods of producing microcapsules.²
³Vinit has been very successful in creatively
applying the physical and colloid chemistry of nanoparticles
to the synthesis of functional materials,² Wong
said. ³His Ph.D. research provides a great example
of nanotechnology research performed at the basic
science level that can readily transition into commercial
products. This award is a wonderful and well-deserved
Kozmetsky Awards are the first awards of their
kind to be offered in the U.S. to students working
in fields related to nanotechnology. They are given
annually to the top two graduate students in Texas.
The award funds must be used for stipends, travel,
lab supplies, books and other direct costs associated
with the student¹s research.
credited Wong¹s guidance and leadership
as a critical factor in his winning the award.
³I couldn¹t have achieved this without
Dr. Wong¹s enthusiasm and his unwavering encouragement,² Murthy
said. ³By his example, I have learned how important
it is to develop interpersonal skills, teamwork and
leadership qualities not just for success in
my career but in order to become a well-rounded person.²
CONTACT: Jade Boyd