Proposers may request up to $100,000 per year for projects lasting up to two
A wide-ranging collection of new research projects from disciplines across
campus have been selected to receive Princeton funding through the Dean for
Research Innovation Funds (link is external).
The funding program encourages ideas and collaborations that push the
boundaries of conventional areas and may be at too early a stage to find
backing from external grants. This year’s awards will support a wide range
of initiatives in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, as
well as spurring research collaborations with industry and promoting
sustainability research using the campus as a lab.
“Through this mechanism, Princeton demonstrates support for innovative
proposals that have the potential to make a difference in their field and
across disciplines,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti (link is
external), the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science
and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “Opportunities like
these impact the quality of both the faculty members that we are able to
attract to Princeton, and the research that they are able to do once here.”
The winning proposals were selected based on their quality, originality and
potential for impact through anonymous review by Princeton peers
knowledgeable in the discipline being explored.
Tiny cellular gatekeepers at work
Nieng Yan, the Shirley M. Tilghman Professor of Molecular Biology, will lead
the development of a new twist on a powerful technique, known as cryo-
electron microscopy, to observe the workings of channels in the cell
membrane that control the flow of charged atoms, or ions. To see these tiny
structures using cryo-EM, researchers must first separate the proteins from
the cell membranes, but this step destroys the ability to respond to
Yan and her team plan to restore the electrical responsiveness by innovating
a thin conductive film that will lie under the proteins and provide a
voltage. The goal is to learn more about how the channels behave, giving
insights into the development of treatments for conditions including chronic
pain, epileptic seizures and cardiac arrhythmias.