Two Houston professors land prestigious federal defense grants
Two Rice University professors and researchers were granted prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grants this month.
Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, and Jeffrey Tabor, a bioengineer and synthetic biologist, were among the 10 faculty scientists and engineers in the country who earned the highly competitive grants from the United States Department of Defense this year. The five-year fellowships come with up to $3 million in funding and aim to support basic research programs that are projected to have transformative impact in their respective fields. Typically only about 50 Bush Fellows are active at a time.
Si, who is the director of the Rice Center for Quantum Materials and a member of the Rice Quantum Initiative, plans to use his grant to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.
He says in a statement that the research could lead to new methods of quantum sensing and quantum information processing.
Tabor, whose lab programs living cells to respond to stimuli like diseases, has plans to use the funds to engineer biological enzymes that can programmably construct DNA.
“Our work could open new doors to understanding the rules of life and enable the engineering of designer organisms with applications in sustainable manufacturing, energy, medicine and more,” he said in a statement.
Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, and Jeffrey Tabor, a bioengineer and synthetic biologist, were among the 10 faculty scientists and engineers in the country who earned grants from the United States Department of Defense. Photos via rice.edu
Si and Tabor join only two other Bush fellowship recipients from Rice: Naomi Halas in 2009 and Richard Baranuik in 2017.
Other faculty from the 2023 fellows come from Stanford University, University of Chicago, John Hopkins University and others. Rice and Stanford are the only two universities to have multiple fellows named to the 2023 group.
Earlier this month, the Houston-based Welch Foundation announced that it would award $10.8 million to support research at Houston-area universities, including researchers at Rice. And in June, a Rice quantum computer scientist, Nai-Hui Chia, was also presented with a 2023 Google Scholar award of up to $60,000 to support professors' research around the world.Late last year, 12 Rice researchers were named to The Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers 2022 list considers a global pool of public academic papers that rank in the top 1 percent of citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science. Nearly 60 Houston-area researchers were named to the list.