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Wheeldon Earns Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award


Wheeldon Earns Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award

January 28, 2013

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Ian WheeldonAssistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Ian Wheeldon has been named by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research as one of 40 scientists and engineers to receive Young Investigator Program (YIP) research awards.

Wheeldon will receive a three-year, $360,000 grant to fund his research project, "Understanding Nanostructured Reaction Pathways for Multi-Step Oxidation in Enzymatic Electrodes." The work will help the Air Force meet its goal of creating new bioelectric devices for improving human capabilities, human-machine interfaces, and microscale power generating devices by extending the ability to understand and control multi-step biochemical reaction pathways at an electrically active interface. The overall objective for Wheeldon's project is to develop and analyze spatially organized multi-enzyme pathways and create optimized biocatalytic electrodes for the multi-step oxidation of sugars and alcohols in enzymatic biofuel cell anodes.

Wheeldon's research interests include protein and metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and biocatalysis. His current research focuses on engineering new multi-enzyme reaction pathways with controlled spatial locations, distances, and orientations to control substrate flux along pathways. The goals of this work are to create new synthetic biology tools and protein technologies that can be used to solve current problems in bioenergy and biocatalysis.

Wheeldon joined the BCOE faculty in 2011. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Brigham Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. As a postdoc he developed new methods of high throughput biomaterials synthesis and screening.

Wheeldon received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in the Department of Chemical Engineering. His doctoral research focused on the development of multi-functional enzymatic hydrogels for biofuel cells. This work built on his previous studies at the University of Buenos Aires, where he was a visiting scholar studying the electrochemistry of biological molecules.
Wheeldon received his master's degree in applied science from the Royal Military College of Canada, where he worked on fuel reforming and hydrogen purification technologies for high and low temperature fuel cells. He received his bachelor's degree in applied science from Queen's University in Canada and is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Biological Engineers, and American Chemical Society.

The Air Force Young Investigator Program is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years and show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The objective of the YIP is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

This year AFOSR received 192 proposals in response to the AFOSR broad agency announcement solicitation in major areas of interest to the Air Force and funded 40 of them with grants totaling $15 million. These areas include: aerospace, chemical and material sciences; physics and electronics; and mathematics, information and life sciences. AFOSR officials select proposals based on the evaluation criteria listed in the broad agency announcement. Those selected receive the grants over a three- to five-year period.

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