Professor Contreras Awarded Defense Threat Reduction Agency Young Investigator Award
Professor Lydia Contreras has been named recipient of the 2011 Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Young Investigator Award for her work on molecular regulation in radioresistant organisms that could uncover new methods to monitor and remediate radiation-contaminated sites.
“Bioremediation holds great promise for dealing with intractable environmental problems due to the enormous natural capabilities that microbes exhibit to survive in extreme environments,” said Contreras. “Over the next two years, we aim to uncover new molecular features in bacteria that can be exploited for these applications.”
Each year DTRA makes 10 to 15 Young Investigator Awards nationally to researchers from various science and engineering fields. Contreras will receive $200,000 to continue this project.
Her research combines biomolecular engineering, genetic studies and computational modeling to understand molecular features that lead to the specific recognition and interaction of RNAs and proteins. Her team applies fundamental concepts that emerge from experimental and computational work to develop novel applications that could beneficially impact human health. She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 2008. Her B.S.E in chemical engineering was awarded by Princeton University in 2003.
DTRA is the U.S. Department of Defense’s official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction. Under DTRA, DoD resources, expertise and capabilities are combined to ensure the United States remains ready and able to address the present and future WMD threat through combat support, technology development, threat control and threat reduction.