UM Researchers Receive Presidential Award: Three University of Michigan researchers are among the 85 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the nation’s highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers. The White House announced the awards Friday evening. The researchers are cell biologist Haoxing Xu, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology; engineer Jerome Lynch, an associate professor in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and industrial ecologist Shelie Miller, an assistant professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Ten federal departments and agencies annually nominate scientists and engineers whose work shows exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Participating agencies award these talented researchers up to five years of funding to further their work in support of critical government missions. Xu, who was nominated by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke), seeks to understand the signals cells use to sense what’s going on in the environment and respond appropriately. His lab uses a broad-based approach that integrates techniques of molecular biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, immunochemistry, electrophysiology, fluorescence imaging, confocal microscopy and mouse genetics. Lynch, who was nominated by the National Science Foundation, develops sensor technology to monitor the health of large civil structures such as bridges. Such sensors could remotely warn inspectors about cracks and corrosion before catastrophic failure occurs. Lynch will use this $400,000, 5-year award to design bio-inspired sensing skins that can be used for the spatial mapping of damage and degradation in infrastructure systems. Miller, who was nominated by the National Science Foundation, is developing a research tool to predict the environmental impacts of novel renewable energy sources such as switchgrass, a native perennial grass that is considered a promising biofuel candidate. “The idea is that it’s reasonably easy to determine the environmental impacts of systems that are already in use, but the systems we really need to know about are the ones we haven’t created yet,” Miller said. “The ultimate goal is to make sure we’re not creating significant new environmental impacts as we pursue potential solutions to the energy problem.” Miller will also produce an educational video that examines public perceptions about bioenergy and explores some of the myths surrounding the topic.
Ann Arbor-Ypsi Chamber Merger Wins Nonprofit Of The Year As 2010 Deals Of The Year: AnnArbor.com’s Business Review announced the winners of its 2010 “Deals of the Year” awards at its sixth annual gala Friday night. A crowd of 400 people attended the presentation, the area’s largest black-tie business event, where The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber took home the honor of Nonprofit of the Year. The nomination came as a result of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Chambers combining earlier this year. The business advocacy groups for the two communities had long operated separately, despite embracing similar missions — and even member overlap. Yet leadership of each group recognized a unique opportunity to set a regional example of cooperation and collaboration by initiating a merger. The deal came as the groups faced challenging budgets, but the true impact comes from erasing the ‘invisible line’ drawn for decades along US-23. Chamber member offerings include numerous networking opportunities and events, educational seminars, leadership development, member-to-member discounts and access to health insurance. More at www.a2ychamber.org.
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