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Two MIT professors win NSF Career awards

Two faculty members in the Department of Mechanical Engineering have won Career awards, the highly selective grants that the National Science Foundation awards to junior faculty members who are likely to become academic leaders of the future.

Rohit Karnik, a d'Arbeloff Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received a $400,000 award to study the transport of cells rolling on asymmetric receptor patterns, for the separation of cells in microfluidic devices. This process is expected to be less damaging to the cells than conventional methods, and could be useful in point-of-care therapeutic applications. Karnik’s new approach to separation of cells involves "steering" of cells as they roll over a surface that has been covered with asymmetric receptor patterns. The research will focus, among other things, on studying different patterns for the surfaces to improve their ability to select specific kinds of cells.

Kripa Varanasi, also a d'Arbeloff Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received a $400,000 award to advance research and education programs in thermal-fluid-surface interactions involving nanoengineered surfaces with an emphasis on condensation phenomena. Varanasi says this research could lead to novel nanoengineered surfaces that could be useful in various industries including energy, water, agriculture, and transportation, for major gains in system efficiencies, energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

The two awards began Feb. 1, and last for five years. For more information on the awards, visit the NSF’s web site listing for Karnik and Varanasi.

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