$7.5 mil tagged for Lab–U of C collaboration

By Dan Lambert

The University of Chicago will award a total of $300,000 in grants to University and Argonne National Labs scientists to conduct joint research projects between the two institutions, Donald Levy, vice-president for research and National Laboratories, announced last week.

The grants were provided by the Strategic Collaborative Initiative (SCI), a program started by the University as part of its lab management contract with Argonne and designed to facilitate collaborative research efforts between the two institutions.

Each of the four projects, all awarded $75,000 grants, is headed by a University faculty member and an Argonne lab scientist.

Chuan He, assistant professor of chemistry, and Argonne scientist Mark Jensen were awarded funding to explore actinides, a series of chemical elements, and their behavior in mammalian cells. They plan to study how actinides can be removed from cells in cases of overexposure, and how actinides relate to the way iron travels through the body.

Chuan He called the project an exciting opportunity for Argonne and the University because it is “the perfect marriage of the two parts. It is a new direction for both labs.”

Laurie Butler, professor of chemistry at the U of C, will work with Argonne scientist Stephen Pratt to examine intermediates, molecules involved in chemical reactions, and their role in the combustion of alternative fuels.

Butler and Pratt hope to better understand the unknown elements of the combustion process in order to maximize the amount of energy gained from the reaction. With the SCI grant, Butler said the project could now function with “an extensive team between the two labs.”

Eduardo Perozo, professor and chief of the Institute of Molecular Pediatric Sciences at the University of Chicago Hospitals, and Argonne Labs’ Lee Makowski, division director of the Biosciences Division, aim to measure the atomic-scale motion in membrane proteins with their funding.

Phillippe Guyot-Sionnest, professor of chemistry and physics, and visiting Argonne scientist Jeffrey Elam, will head a project that will examine the atomic layer deposition of particular semiconductor materials on films of colloidal semiconductor particles.

The University has committed to distributing $1.5 million per year for the next five years to SCI projects.

“The SCIs provide flexibility to both Laboratories in developing or expediting progress in promising programmatic areas in support of Department of Energy missions while simultaneously benefiting the scientific and educational missions of the University and the Laboratories,” Levy said in the announcement.

Last month, a similar program involving Fermilab and University researchers allotted $225,000 to a set of research projects also linking the federal lab to University researchers.