Home > Press > Rice Student Earns Top Texas Nano Honors
Murthy Wins Nanotechnology Foundation of Texas' Kozmetsky Award
Rice Student Earns Top Texas Nano Honors
Houston, TX | Posted on January 30, 2006
The Nanotechnology Foundation of Texas (NFT) has
awarded Rice University doctoral student Vinit Murthy its 2006 George
Kozmetsky Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Nanotechnology. The
award includes a $5,000 prize.
Murthy and Shravanthi Reddy of the University of Texas at Austin earned top
honors in the Kozmetsky competition, which drew stiff competition from the
state's leading research universities. Only 14 out of a possible 600 points
separated the top four finalists, which represented diverse fields,
including medicine, engineering and natural science.
Murthy, a fifth-year chemical engineering Ph.D. student in the research
group of Michael Wong, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular
engineering and assistant professor of chemistry, studies nanoparticle
assembly. Along with Wong, he co-discovered a simple method to encapsulate
any water-soluble compound easily and without damage.
The method is the most environmentally sensitive approach yet devised for
making tiny hollow spheres called microcapsules. Microcapsule research is
one of the most active fields in applied nanotechnology, with dozens of
companies either developing or using the tiny containers - usually smaller
than living cells - to deliver everything from drugs and imaging agents to
perfumes and flavor enhancers.
"Nanoparticle-assembled capsules are particularly interesting because their
properties can be tailored for specific applications," Murthy said. "Because
our method works at room temperature and uses water as a solvent, it's
cleaner, cheaper and easier than existing methods of producing
"Vinit has been very successful in creatively applying the physical and
colloid chemistry of nanoparticles to the synthesis of functional
materials," Wong said. "His Ph.D. research provides a great example of
nanotechnology research performed at the basic science level that can
readily transition into commercial products. This award is a wonderful and
The Kozmetsky Awards are the first awards of their kind to be offered in the
U.S. to students working in fields related to nanotechnology. They are given
annually to the top two graduate students in Texas. The award funds must be
used for stipends, travel, lab supplies, books and other direct costs
associated with the student's research.
Murthy credited Wong's guidance and leadership as a critical factor in his
winning the award.
"I couldn't have achieved this without Dr. Wong's enthusiasm and his
unwavering encouragement," Murthy said. "By his example, I have learned how
important it is to develop interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership
qualities, not just for success in my career but in order to become a
About Rice University:
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Rice University is consistently ranked one of America's best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size: 2,850 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students; selectivity: 10 applicants for each place in the freshman class; resources: an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, and the fifth largest endowment per student among American universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines, integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work. Rice's wooded campus is located in the nation's fourth largest city and on America's South Coast.
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