Faculty Research & Honors

Selected Notables

Excellence in Cancer Research
Lewis C. Cantley, Medicine/Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College, was a winner of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The prize, which carries a $3 million cash award and is the largest academic prize for medicine and biology, recognizes excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human lives.
Cornell’s Collaborative Humanities
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded $1.4 million to support a Cornell pilot program in architecture, urbanism, and the humanities, covering six semesters of seminars from spring 2014 through fall 2016.
Smart Electrical Grid
Lang Tong, Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a four-year, $1.9 million award from NSF to lead a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Cornell, Georgia State University, and University of California, Berkeley, to study the U.S. smart grid. The team aims to develop a system for computation and information sharing in a smart electrical grid.
Next-Gen Nanoscale Electronics
Craig J. Fennie, Applied and Engineering Physics; Ephrahim Garcia, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Darrell Schlom, Materials Science and Engineering, are part of a new $35 million NSF Engineering Research Center to create highly efficient, powerful electromagnetic systems no larger than biological cells. The center, Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems, is housed at University of California, Los Angeles, but draws expertise from five academic institutions.
At The Intersection of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering
Kionix Inc., an Ithaca-based company that commercializes technology developed at Cornell, awarded a $1 million gift to Cornell’s College of Engineering to establish the Kionix Graduate Fellowship in Engineering.
David Erickson, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Largus Angenent, Biological and Environmental Engineering, received a $910,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help revolutionize how biofuels are produced from algae.
Grand Challenges Explorations
Three labs at Weill Cornell Medical College—led by Carl Nathan, Medicine/Microbiology and Immunology; Kyu Rhee, Medicine/ Microbiology and Immunology; and Laurie H. Glimcher, Medicine—were awarded research grants totaling $1.5 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. The labs study innovative approaches to diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
Endowing The Humanities
Cornell’s Society for the Humanities received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant of $1.3 million—$330,000 to continue initiatives in the short term and $1 million contingent on Cornell raising an additional $2 million to support a permanent endowment for the Society for the Humanities programs.
Interdisciplinary Goes High-Risk, High-Reward

Three Cornell research teams received support from the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) program for high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research.

Mukund Vengalattore, Physics, and Sunil A. Bhave, Electrical and Computer Engineering, received $800,000 over four years to develop a novel optomechanical system that works with atomic-level sensitivity.

Lang Tong, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Shanjun Li, Applied Economics and Management, received a four-year, $700,000 grant to study the engineering and economic challenges of a sustainable pathway to an electric vehicle–based transportation system.

Jiangang Dai, Operations Research and Information Engineering, is a principal investigator with colleagues at University of California, San Diego and Georgia Institute of Technology on a three-year, $750,000 project to deliver an analytical framework for solving emerging networking problems.

Plant Stem Cells
Michael J. Scanlon, Plant Biology, received a five-year, $7 million NSF award to lead a team of nine researchers in studying the maize shoot apical meristem, a pool of plant stem cells responsible for forming the parts of the corn plant that grow above the ground. Corn is one of the world’s most important staple crops and one of the most genetically diverse.
Animal Health
The Starr Foundation committed $6 million to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine to create two endowed professorships in clinical research critical to improving animal health.
Next-Gen Grapes
Bruce I. Reisch and Timothy E. Martinson, Horticulture, each with his own approach, will make grape breeding more efficient for the next generation of grapes with their combined grants totaling $4.5 million.
Determining Drug Safety Faster, Cost-Effectively
Michael L. Shuler, Biomedical Engineering, received a five-year, $9 million National Institutes of Health grant jointly with a research colleague. They will make 3-D chips with living cells and tissues that model the structure and function of human organs and help predict drug safety.
Biblical Timeline
Sturt Manning, Classics/Archaeology, won a $200,000 NSF grant for dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating research in the Near East to pinpoint the early Biblical timeline.
Brain and Mind Health
Weill Cornell Medical College announced a $28 million gift from the Gertrude and Louis Feil Family, establishing the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, a unique, multidisciplinary translational neuroscience research hub.
Global Intellectual Property
Stacey A. Langwick, Anthropology, received a two-year, $234,000 grant from NSF to examine the shifting forms of ownership and rights to traditional medicine that have emerged from new global intellectual property laws in Tanzania.
Faculty Accolades
At The Movies
Douglas L. James, Computer Science, shared an Academy Award for Technical Achievement with colleagues for engineering wavelet turbulence software, which generates realistic swirling smoke and fiery explosions. The software has been used in Avatar, Monsters vs. Aliens, Sherlock Holmes, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Alice in Wonderland, Hugo, Puss in Boots, Super 8, Kung Fu Panda, The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 3, and Man of Steel.
National Science Board
G. Peter Lepage, Physics, was appointed to the National Science Board, which governs the National Science Foundation.
Jonathan I. Lunine, Astronomy, was chosen to cochair a new National Research Council committee that is undertaking a study on the future of the human spaceflight program. He will help decide whether, when, and why Americans will next fly in outer space.
Chief Technologist
Mason A. Peck, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, became NASA’s chief technologist in January 2012, serving as principal adviser and advocate for NASA’s technology programs and policy. He oversees more than a thousand technology programs and shows how NASA’s technologies serve the public.
Top Tech Innovator
K. Noah Snavely, Computer Science, was named a 2011 TR35—one of Technology Review’s top technology innovators under the age of 35. Snavely developed a method to match the details of many still photographs of the same scene and stitch them together into a 3-D rendering.
Patrick J. Stover, Nutritional Sciences, received a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for his long-running research on the molecular genetics and biochemistry of the vitamins folate and vitamin B-12 and their link to colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, and human birth defects. Stover will receive funding for 10 years.