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Message from the Dean

January 19th, 2009

The spring semester has just gotten underway, and as expected there is already exciting news that I’d like to bring to your attention.

Duncan Moore, professor of optics, biomedical engineering and business administration here at the University of Rochester, has been named a Fellow of the IEEE in 2009. This is truly a well deserved honor for Duncan. He is being recognized by the IEEE for his important work on gradient-index–or GRIN–optical systems and his contributions to optical technologies for the Hubble Space Telescope. Duncan’s GRIN work led him to found the Rochester-based Gradient Lens Corporation in 1980, an endeavor that underscores his entrepreneurial drive to move ideas and technologies from the lab into the real world. Duncan also chaired the Hubble Independent Optical Review Panel in 1990 that determined the optical prescription that successfully compensated for an aberration in the main mirror of the telescope. Duncan is one of only three IEEE members from upstate New York named as fellows in 2009, yet another indication of the exceptional quality of our SEAS faculty. Congratulations Duncan!

Another instance of the strong entrepreneurship amongst SEAS faculty and researchers can be seen with the University-based company SiMPore. Back in 2004, research associate Christopher Striemer discovered a unique ultra-thin, porous membrane–only 15 nanometers thick, or more than 4,000 times thinner than a human hair! Such technology stands to have numerous commercial applications, ranging from the separation of proteins and improvement of hemodialysis, to speeding ion exchange in fuel cells and increasing efficiency in the culturing of stem cells. The diverse possibilities led Striemer, BME Associate Professor, James McGrath, and others affiliated with the U of R to found SiMPore. And this month the company has unveiled its first product, a microscope slide, or window, made from the very same membrane technology. These windows permit vastly superior, high-resolution imaging at the atomic scale in electron microscopy and will allow researchers to better understand the intricate structures of nanomaterials. Again, this is a great example of the talented individuals at SEAS taking their research and putting it into action.

The last thing I’d like to mention this week is the continuing success of a summer program held annually at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics that involves high school students in cutting-edge scientific research. Just this past week, two local high school students were named as semi-finalists in Intel’s Science Talent Search for research projects they carried out at LLE last summer. 300 semi-finalists were selected from roughly 1,600 hundred that entered the national competition, and 40 finalists will be announced on Jan. 28. The finalists–of which LLE has had several in the past few years–will be invited to the Science Talent Institute in March in Washington, D.C., to compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000. It is high school outreach programs like LLE’s that can motivate and excite young students about the possibilities afforded in science and engineering as they begin considering their longer-term options and goals. The main reason I’m sharing this with all of you is that I think the SEAS community would do well to think of other ways we can offer more young people the chance to experience the diverse opportunities in engineering and applied science, especially here at the U of R.

With the semester picking up momentum, be sure to send any information about SEAS related events, awards, and initiatives my way.

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