University of California, Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering



Franco Named Hellman Fellow for 2013-14


Franco Named Hellman Fellow for 2013-14

June 12, 2013

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FrancoAssistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Elisa Franco has been selected as a Hellman Fellow at UCR Riverside for 2013-14, it was announced recently.

Franco is the third BCOE faculty member to be named Hellman Fellow since the program was begun at UCR in 2011, following Huinan Liu (Department of Bioengineering, 2012-13) and Anastosios Mourikis (Department of Electrical Engineering, 2011-12).  Franco will receive a $30,000 grant to support her research project, "Development of reconfigurable nanoscale materials using nucleic acids," which will investigate ways to create programmed materials that are able to adapt in response to stimuli much like living cells.

The Hellman Fellows program at UCR began in 2011with a $1-million gift from the Hellman Fellows Fund. First established by Warren and Chris Hellman in 1994, the purpose of the Hellman Fellows program is to support the research of promising assistant professors. The Hellman Fellows program is active at 13 institutions, including nine campuses in the UC System.

Franco joined the faculty at BCOE in 2011 and in May of this year was awarded a $350,000 National Science Foundation grant for her project, "Design and Synthesis of Robust and Tunable Nucleic Acid-Based Oscillators for Bionanotechnology." In April, it was announced that Leo Green, one of the graduate students she supervises, was awarded the prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship.

Franco received her B.S. and M.S. (laurea degree) in power systems engineering from the University of Trieste (Italy) in 2002, summa cum laude. In 2007, she received her Ph. D. in automation from the same institution. In 2011, she completed her second Ph. D. in control and dynamical systems at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Franco's main interests are in the area of DNA nanotechnology and biological feedback. In particular, her research focuses on bottom-up approaches to the design and synthesis of dynamic nanodevices and materials using nucleic acids and proteins. She also works on modeling and robustness analysis of biochemical control pathways. In the past, Franco worked in the field of cooperative control and distributed estimation.

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