Edmund Optics selects grant recipients

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Edmund Optics (EO) has announced the winners of its 2010 Higher Education Grant programme. Selected from more than 250 applicants, the first-, second-, and third-place finalists have received grants worth $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000, respectively, which can be used to purchase the company's products for the support their research and educational activities. An additional 11 finalists will receive matching grants of $500 worth of Edmund Optics' products.

'We are constantly surprised and impressed at the diversity and calibre of the optical techniques that our applicants are utilising,' said Marisa Edmund, vice president of marketing and communications at the company. 'Each of our award recipients and finalists are superheroes in their field and it is immensely gratifying to know how EO's products and services are supporting their work. We are thrilled to support them even further with the award of our Higher Education Grants.'

The 2010 Grant programme made its initial selection of 14 finalists by evaluating applications on the basis of innovation, technical impact, industry benefit, and educational benefit. In-depth personal interviews resulted in the final selection of Lori Goldner, Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Armand R. Tanguay, Jr., Professor of Electrical Engineering, Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California (USC); and Corey Shemelya, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering at Tufts University, as the recipients for this year's grants.

First-place recipient Dr Lori Goldner is developing state-of-the-art optical equipment that allows microscopic examination of single biomolecules and their interactions with their environment. Tightly focused laser beams serve as optical tweezers to position sub-micron-sized droplets of fluid that contain the molecule, acting as a tiny test tube. Dr Goldner is able to investigate the structure and actions of the molecule using a confocal fluorescence microscope. These techniques have applications both in biochemistry, where they allow detailed examination of molecular interactions such as those between proteins and RNA, and physics, where they can be used to observe how biomolecules assemble into complex structures such as crystals and tubes. Ultimately, the studies will aid the development of more effective drugs and advanced nano-fabricated materials.

Goldner intends to use the grant to build additional sets of optical tweezers and other advanced tools to be dedicated to student use.