By Bill Kisliuk
Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named a 2014 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, recognized for his breakthrough research and innovative approach to undergraduate education, HHMI announced Monday.
Ozcan is one of 15 researchers from around the country named a 2014 HHMI Professor. Awardees receive a $1 million grant to be used over five years to pursue high-impact, interdisciplinary research and effectively integrate their work with creative approaches to undergraduate education.
Ozcan, who is also associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute, develops cost-effective and field-portable photonics tools for microscopy, sensing and diagnosis. Devices invented in his lab – including lightweight smartphone attachments to detect the presence of mercury in water, malaria in blood cells and allergens in food – are designed for point-of-care use and are adaptable to rural and resource-poor areas.
His previous honors include winning the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2010 and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2011.
Using the HHMI grant, Ozcan intends to launch a program in which undergraduate researchers will form interdisciplinary teams annually to design, build and test novel technologies for telemedicine and global health applications.
In addition to Ozcan, Tracy L. Johnson, Maria Rowena Ross Chair in Cell Biology and Biochemistry and associate professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, was named a 2014 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor.
Johnson and Ozcan bring to five the number of UCLA professors who have been named HHMI professors since the program started in 2002.
“Exceptional teachers have a lasting impact on students,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “These scientists are at the top of their respective fields and they bring the same creativity and rigor to science education that they bring to their research.”
Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., HHMI seeks to transform science education in the United States by encouraging hands-on, research-oriented and interdisciplinary instruction. Over the years, the organization has awarded more than $935 million to 274 colleges and universities in the United States.