CAMDEN — Grace Brannigan and Jinglin Fu, assistant professors at Rutgers University–Camden, are among a select group of researchers from around the country to receive Cottrell College Science Awards from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).Cottrell awards recognize outstanding scholars for the quality and innovation of their research programs and their academic leadership skills, covering research in astronomy, chemistry, and physics.
RCSA awarded nearly $2.5 million for 48 innovative research projects proposed by early career scientists at American colleges and universities. Among the recipients, 15 are Cottrell Scholar Award winners and 33 are Cottrell College Science Award winners.
Brannigan and Fu will each receive $40,000 for their research projects from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.
For her research, “Effects of Cholesterol and Lipid Sorting on Aggregation of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors,” Brannigan is using computational analysis to examine how cholesterol — an important part of cell membranes in the central nervous system — impacts protein organization in a cell, which in turn can lead to health risks.
“My research has focused on smaller scale systems and very microscopic interactions,” says Brannigan, an assistant professor of physics at Rutgers University–Camden. “In this case, I really wanted to branch out into looking at larger systems and the Cottrell Award provides funding for a project that will give me and my research group that opportunity. The award is a considerable honor and it’s gratifying to receive it for this kind of research.”
Brannigan will have two undergraduate students working with her on the project.
Fu, an assistant professor of chemistry at Rutgers University–Camden, says the Cottrell College Science Award supports a new research project — “An Enzyme-Powered Nanomotor Propelled by Chemical Fuels” — that undergraduate students will work on in his lab.
“The work will establish a multidisciplinary approach combining chemistry and physics to construct and characterize a series of self-propelled nanodevices,” Fu says.
“The award will allow Rutgers–Camden students to participate in research and make advancements in the field of nanotechnology,” he notes. “It presents a great opportunity for our campus.”
Brannigan, a Philadelphia resident, earned her bachelor’s degree from Reed College and her doctoral degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Fu, who lives in Cherry Hill, received his bachelor's and master's degree from Zhejiang University in China and his doctoral degree from Arizona State University.
Both scholars teach in Rutgers–Camden’s Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, which combines traditional biomedical disciplines with analytic methods to research biological systems.