ENGINEERING NEWS

Neha Kamat Receives Air Force Young Investigator Research Program Award

Kamat is one of 31 chosen from 290 applicants to receive the 2019 award

Neha Kamat, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern Engineering, received a 2019 Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

Neha KamatKamat, who studies artificial cells as a tool to understand and recreate cellular behaviors, is one of 31 scientists and engineers from 24 research institutions and businesses to receive a YIP award. AFOSR received 290 proposals for the program, which aims to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

A member of Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology, Kamat will receive a three-year grant totaling $450,000. She submitted her proposal, “A Biophysical Approach to Uncover the Role of Cell Membrane Mechanics in Sensing Mechanical Force,” to the Human Performance and Biosystems Program, which works to understand how organelles, cells, and tissues are affected by acoustic, photo, electric, or magnetic energy. 

“We know that cells change their membrane composition in response to different environmental stresses,” Kamat said. “We’d like to better understand how these composition changes affect the ability of a cell to sense or even protect themselves from mechanical forces. Using that knowledge, we could then potentially develop protective strategies to prevent cellular damage or death in the event of acoustic wave exposure.”