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Indian-American Prof at RIT Wins Award Worth $478,476 to Study Chiral Structures

Before the Rochester Institute of Technology, Poornima Padmanabhan was a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell.

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Poornima Padmanabhan, an Indian-American professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a private research university in the New York metropolitan area, has won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award.

The RIT released a statement regarding Padmanabhan, who is a professor in the chemical engineering department, and the grant that she won.

With a duration of five years, it is worth $478,476.

The National Science Foundation's division of Materials Research granted the award, for "Chirality and polymer thermodynamics: frustration and amplification."

The RIT press release stated that "scientists look to space for origins of the solar system; chemical engineers like Poornima Padmanabhan are searching for the origins of life based on minute systems of molecules."

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Talking about the award and the research that she would be doing, Padmanabhan said that she will be studying "how proteins fold" and "how life originated.

"We can think about how biology forms chiral structures and the reason the work is very exciting is we don’t know how these phenomena happen," she added.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology , she is co-director of the Computational Materials Research Nucleus Lab, which is concerned with the development of "extreme" strength polymers, electrochemistry, and alternative energy resources, according to the press release.

Before starting to teach at the RIT, she was a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University and received the Alice H. Cook and Constance E. Cook Award for commitment to women’s issues and improving the conditions for women at the university.

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