Milestones: Sept. 27, 2019

Sep 27 2019

Recent awards, recognitions, and accomplishments from our students and faculty

Sabbagh Receives $7.6M DOE Grant for Fusion Research

Steven A. Sabbagh, senior research scientist and adjunct professor in applied physics and applied mathematics, received $7.6 million in expanded funding for a joint international grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Sabbagh is the lead principal investigator for the overall project to study high performance tokamak plasma disruption prediction and avoidance in the long-pulse Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device located in Daejeon, South Korea. The research investigates eliminating plasma disruptions in a tokamak, directly addressing a Tier 1 (highest priority) element of the U.S. magnetic fusion program. APAM associate research scientist Young-Seok Park will be the lead Columbia researcher on the project, a joint effort of Columbia, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Nova Photonics, Inc., and the National Fusion Research Institute in Daejeon, South Korea.


Zang Named Finalist for 2019 Blavatnik Award

Yaping Zang, a postdoctoral research scientist in applied physics and chemistry, was named one of six finalists in the 2019 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. Zang, a chemist in the lab of Lawrence Gussman Professor Latha Venkataraman, was recognized in the Chemistry category for her novel use of electrochemistry and electrical fields—in place of toxic or expensive reagents—and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy techniques to drive single-molecule chemical reactions. Her research could help usher in cleaner chemical synthesis for industrially relevant materials. The Blavatnik Regional Awards honor outstanding postdoctoral scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.


Vunjak-Novakovic Receives TERMIS-AM’s Innovation/Commercialization Award

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, University Professor and Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and professor of medical sciences, received the 2019 Innovation/Commercialization Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society of the Americas (TERMIS Americas), for her lab’s heart chip technology, the basis of Vunjak-Novakovic’s startup, Tara Biosystems. The award will be presented at the upcoming 2019 TERMIS-AM conference in Orlando, Florida on December 5. 


Polvani Named 2019 Fellow of American Geophysical Union

Lorenzo Polvani, professor of applied physics and applied mathematics, was named a 2019 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Each year, the AGU elects only 1% of its members to the Fellows program for exceptional contributions to Earth and space science. Polvani, also a professor in earth and environmental sciences, researches climate variability and change, tropical cyclones, the influence of the Arctic on other regions, and geophysical fluid dynamics. He will be recognized at the Fall 2019 AGU meeting in San Francisco, California. 


Zussman Receives $6.4M DOE Grant for Solar Tech Project with Siemens

Gil Zussman, professor of electrical engineering, is co-PI in a $6.4M DOE Solar Technologies Office project with Siemens Corporation to advance solar energy’s role in strengthening the resilience of the U.S. electricity grid and support smart infrastructure. Led by Siemens, the Autonomous and Resilient Operation of Energy systems with Renewables (AURORA) project includes Zussman’s WiMNet Lab, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Holy Cross Energy. The team will create an Energy Management System to coordinate distributed microgrids, increase resilience against natural disasters and cyber-attacks, and autonomously restore power during a blackout. Zussman will contribute his expertise in the area of vulnerability and resilience in power networks.


Boyce Receives Sabic Young Professional Award

Chris Boyce, assistant professor in chemical engineering, was honored with the 2019 Sabic Young Professional Award from AIChE. The award recognizes outstanding and internationally recognized contributions in particle technology by a young professional under 40 years old. Boyce was cited for “the development of MRI measurements of coupled gas and particle hydrodynamics and the discovery of gravitational instabilities between granular materials of different density."


Leong Team Receives $9.5M DARPA Grant for Radiation Resilience

Kam Leong, Samuel Y. Sheng Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is part of an interdisciplinary team that received an up to $9.5 million dollar DARPA grant to pursue therapy to protect the body from radiation. Acute radiation syndrome primarily affects stem cells in the blood and guts, yet current treatments focus on blood cells only. Leong, a pioneer in biomaterials, nanomedicine, and drug delivery, will work with principal investigator Harris Wang, PhD, at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, as well as experts in radiation research and CRISPR-Cas technologies to develop an orally delivered programmable therapeutic that will target the gut and liver, triggering protection and regeneration of intestinal cells and inducing liver cells to trigger the regeneration of blood cells in bone marrow. The team is one of five selected by DARPA to participate in its Preemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE) program. They expect to submit at least one product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review by the end of the four-year program.