Contreras Receives Air Force Young Investigator Award
Lydia Contreras has won a 2013 Air Force Young Investigator Award for her work on radiation-activated RNA switches for novel sensing technologies. Contreras is one of 40 scientists and engineers selected in the $15 million dollar program for early career investigators that show exceptional ability and promise for conducting research.
“How to detect biological and chemical agents that can cause harm to soldiers is, at its heart, a chemical engineering research problem with global impact,” said Thomas Truskett, chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. “This award recognizes that some of the most creative solutions in that space, in particular those that involve understanding RNA-based elements with powerful roles in metabolic regulation, are coming from Dr. Contreras.”
Contreras’ proposal was selected from more than 190 applications covering a variety of areas, including aerospace, chemical and material sciences, physics and electronics, and mathematics, information and life sciences.
This funding complements the 2011 Defense Threat Reduction Agency Young Investigator Award Contreras was awarded for studies on radioresistant organisms that help monitor and remediate radiation-contaminated sites. Her research is also tackling disease-causing microorganisms that develop unusual resistance to various commonly-used antibiotics.
In 2011, Contreras was also selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s third Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and was recognized as one of five Keystone Symposia Fellows on molecular and cellular biology. She received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 2003 and a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Cornell University in 2008.
The Young Investigator Research Program fosters creative research in science and engineering, enhances early career development of top young investigators, and increases opportunities for young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering.
Tags: Air Force, Air Force Young Investigator Award, government funded research, Lydia Contreras, McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, novel sensing technologies, radiation-activated RNA switches, research, The University of Texas at Austin