Dr. Bruce Hinds among those honored at White House event
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, most College of Engineering professors were welcoming students back to UK for their first classes of the spring semester. Dr. Bruce Hinds, however, found himself in the White House with President Obama.
Hinds is a recipient of a 2009 President’s Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest award bestowed by the U.S. Government upon scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. Hinds was glad to see faculty research being recognized on a national level. “It’s exciting for me that the president takes the time to do this,” he says.
“Your achievements as scientists, engineers, and engaged citizens are exemplary, and the value of your work is amplified by the inspiration you provide to others,” President Obama said in prepared remarks. He told the 100 winners that he was excited that they have their careers in front of them and couldn’t wait to see what they will do, Hinds says.
Expanding the emphasis on scientific and engineering research is part of the president’s broader emphasis on achieving a world-class science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce. “The award brings more recognition to researchers in general, and shows that the president and the government are paying attention to scientists and engineers,” Hinds says. “They could just send out the certificates in the mail. That President Obama chose to personally attend says something about his priorities.”
Hinds, a professor in the department of chemical and materials engineering, researches ways to use carbon nanotubes as a new drug delivery platform. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Institutes of Health, and is the first materials engineer to receive a PECASE Award on behalf of the agency. “It’s exciting for engineers to be making a breakthrough in the healthcare field like this,” he says. “It can be hard to enough just to get an NIH grant. Receiving this award has been really encouraging.”
Hinds conducts his research thanks in part to the Center for Nanoscale Engineering (CeNSE), a concentration of equipment and engineering expertise that he says helped bring him to UK. At its heart, Hinds’ research is based on a set of microscopic tubes controlled by a polymer film that can be switched on or off using electricity. Opening or closing the tube in this way allows the device to control drug dosages. The high efficiency of this system allows for compact, programmable devices with small batteries and no moving parts.
As to the president, Hinds says that “the most important thing I saw is that the president believes our future is tied to the success of our scientists and engineers. I could sense his commitment from his remarks.” Hinds hopes to bring that definite sense of enthusiasm, both from the president and the other award winners, back to the lab and the classroom.