July 17, 2009

Oak Ridge Associated Universities, or ORAU, a consortium of doctoral-granting academic institutions, named LSU's Cain Department of Chemical Engineering assistant professor Michael G. Benton as a recipient of this year's Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.

The annual Powe award recognizes exceptional academic work by junior university faculty across several disciplines, including engineering, mathematics, life sciences and physical sciences. The award confers a $5,000 grant, plus LSU match, in support of professional growth through the early stages of an academic career.

Benton, the Gordon A. and Mary Cain professor of chemical engineering, studies the expression of genes under varying conditions of cellular growth. His research seeks to identify stresses in the cellular microenvironment that can lead to nutrient depletion, DNA damage and potentially to cancer. Benton's grant will support travel to Bethesda, Md., and research with a collaborator at the National Institutes of Health. "We are trying to develop experimental procedures that will give us insight into how cells sense and respond to mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals. Increasing our knowledge in this area ... will ultimately lower the death rate from many types of cancer."

LSU assistant professor in chemistry, Donghui Zhang, also received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Zhang studies the design and synthesis of new materials, including polymers and molecules, with numerous nanotechnology and biomedical applications. She describes her work as multidisciplinary, addressing issues "that lie at the interface of synthetic chemistry, materials science and biomedical science and engineering."

LSU Chancellor Michael Martin and Vice Chancellor for Research & Economic Development Brooks Keel presented Zhang and Benton with plaques commemorating their awards on July 15.

Said Keel, "The recruitment and retention of young, rising star faculty will keep LSU among America's top research universities. This award marks Drs. Zhang and Benton as firmly in that category."

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Article excerpted from media release by Matt Mullenix, Office of Research & Economic Development, and Ashley Berthelot, LSU Media Relations, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu


 

 

 



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