University of California, Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering

Rao Awarded NSF CAREER Award

Rao Awarded NSF CAREER Award

January 9, 2013

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Masaru RaoAssistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Masaru Rao has been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award for his research project entitled, "Titanium (Ti) Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS): Strength & Strengthenability," which was announced in December.

Rao's research interests lie in the development of fundamentally enabling MEMS-based process technologies, devices, and instruments that address critical needs in public health, facilitate scientific inquiry, and advance understanding in areas of medical relevance. His current efforts focus on the development of biomedical microdevices for applications including cardiovascular intervention, minimally-invasive drug delivery, neuroprostheses, and ultrahigh throughput cellular manipulation. His research is funded by a variety of federal (NIH, NSF, and DoD), industrial, and internal sponsors.

The research objectives of his CAREER project are to advance fundamental understanding of size-dependent plasticity in Ti-based MEMS, as well as develop means for strengthening Ti MEMS in situ, after they have been fabricated. The first objective is motivated by the importance of such understanding in establishing guidelines for reliable design, while the latter is motivated by the limited material selection capability and poor fabrication process versatility in MEMS. Understanding gained in these studies will help elucidate mechanisms underlying size-dependent strength in Ti, as well as foster development of new technological capabilities with direct relevance to both conventional MEMS and emerging biomedical microdevice applications.

Additionally, Rao's five-year, $400,000 grant will allow him to undertake teaching and outreach efforts focused on helping inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers, as well as engaging a local community that is rich in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, but not well-represented in higher education. These efforts will help support continued growth and diversification of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise, and will leverage a new partnership with the California Science Project, a statewide network focused on enhancing science instruction. Specific activities to be undertaken will include those focused on supporting diversity in S&E higher education, inspiring interest in advanced S&E studies, and promoting K-12 S&E interest and awareness.

Rao joined the Bourns College of Engineering in January 2009 after serving previously as an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. In addition to his appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he is a Core Faculty member in UCR's interdisciplinary Materials Science & Engineering Program, as well as a Participating Faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering. He received his B.S. in Material Science and Engineering from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored/co-authored more than 30 journal articles and conference proceedings, has 2 awarded and 6 pending patents, and has presented invited lectures in fields ranging from ceramic composites to MEMS. He is a member of the ASME MEMS Division, BMES, IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society, IEEE Electron Devices Society, and MRS.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is an organization-wide activity that offers the Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Such activities are expected to build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Masaru Rao's faculty web page
Rao's Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory


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