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Ashley Lindstrom
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Department of Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Yuebing Zheng is among eight university researchers to receive the NASA 2017 Space Technology Research Grant. He was selected for his proposal “An Ultracompact Opto-electrico-fluidic System for Preconcentration and Separation of Chiral Molecules in In-situ Life Detection.” Dr. Zheng will receive a total of $600,000 over three years.

The grants are awarded to outstanding faculty researchers early in their careers as they conduct space technology development of high priority to NASA. NASA's Early Career Faculty efforts are an element of the agency's Space Technology Research Grants program. The goal of this program is to accelerate the development of space technologies in their earliest stages to enable future systems capabilities and missions for NASA, other government agencies and the commercial space sector.

Dr. Zheng’s research group innovates optical nanotechnologies to help address current challenges in health, energy, manufacturing and national security. Current research is categorized into three related topic areas: optical manipulation and assembly, molecular plasmonics, and plasmofluidic lab on a chip. 

To achieve the objectives laid out in his proposal for NASA, Dr. Zheng will accomplish three specific research aims: (1) demonstrate an electro-fluidic preconcentrator for low-abundance molecules, (2) demonstrate an opto-fluidic separator for enantioselective separation of chiral molecules, and (3) integrate the preconcentrator and separator into a single ultracompact system and test its performances. With its superior performances, the proposed system will become an integral component for the future end-to-end in situ instrument for NASA space science missions. It will also benefit drug screening, drug purification and point-of-care biomedical applications in human space exploration.

Dr. Zheng received his Ph.D. in engineering science and mechanics from Pennsylvania State University. His previous awards include the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Investigator Award, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award, and the Beckman Young Investigator Award.

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