Skip To Content Skip To Left Navigation
NSF Logo Search GraphicGuide To Programs GraphicImage Library GraphicSite Map GraphicHelp GraphicPrivacy Policy Graphic
OLPA Header Graphic

News Tip


October 22, 2002

For more information on these science news and feature story tips, please contact the public information officer at the end of each item at (703) 292-8070. Editor: Roberta Hotinski

Polymer Prize Goes to NSF Scientist for Distinguished Research Career

National Science Foundation (NSF) staff member Andrew Lovinger has been named to receive the American Physical Society's 2003 Polymer Physics Prize, the highest honor bestowed by the professional association for this field.

Lovinger has worked at NSF since 1995 and now directs the polymer materials research program. He received the prize for advancing scientists' understanding of the structure, morphology and properties of polymers during more than 20 years of research at Bell Labs (now part of Lucent Technologies).

He investigated materials that can be used as electromechanical switches, high-temperature and high-strength polymers and, more recently, polymers that can be used for "plastic electronics" applications, such as flexible plastic displays or electronic paper. Lovinger studied the molecular-level properties of these materials and helped design new materials with improved characteristics.

The prize will be presented at the American Physical Society's March 2003 meeting in Austin, Tex. Lovinger is in good company: three past winners of the polymers prize were Nobel laureates. [Amber Jones]

Top of Page

NSF Funds Training of Future Researchers in Bioengineering and Bioinformatics

Bioengineering--the art of synthesizing molecules and tissues to perform natural functions--promises a wave of advances in clinical medicine, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture. Bioinformatics will provide complementary modeling and data analysis tools. But two government agencies have identified a gap in the training of skilled workers for these fields, and they are joining forces to address it.

Dozens of academic departments and research centers in bioengineering and bioinformatics have formed in the last few years. To encourage students to enter these fields, however, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health (NIH), identified a need to provide undergraduates with hands-on research and training in multidisciplinary teamwork. The agencies will provide $6 million over four years for nine "summer institutes" to meet these specialized needs.

"An important component of NSF and NIH investment is development of the future work force," said NSF program manager Sohi Rastegar. "We hope the summer schools will encourage undergraduates majoring in biology, computer science, mathematics, physics and chemistry to consider careers in bioengineering and bioinformatics."

The funded projects include summer institutes at California State, Clemson, Iowa State, Pennsylvania State and Virginia Commonwealth Universities; Massachusetts and New Jersey Institutes of Technology; and the Universities of Minnesota and Pittsburgh. The institutes will include classes on such subjects as biology and physiology and research in computer modeling and gene function. [Amber Jones]

Top of Page

Laser Eye Surgery Pioneers Earn International Honors

Two scientists who pioneered an ultrafast laser for precision eye surgery have been selected to receive the 2002 Berthold Leibinger Innovation Prize, a prestigious international honor.

Physicist Tibor Juhasz and ophthalmologist Ron Kurtz developed a femtosecond laser for high-precision corneal surgery. The laser emits light in extremely fast pulses, each about a billion times faster than an electronic camera flash. The focused beam passes harmlessly through the outer layers of the cornea until reaching the central layer, where it creates clean incisions with little risk of tissue damage in the surrounding area. The laser has improved the popular LASIK eye surgery by reducing complications caused by traditional manual cutting techniques.

A multidisciplinary team at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan and at the university's Kellogg Eye Center collaborated to develop the laser technology and surgical techniques. Juhasz and Kurtz developed the first medical procedures using an ultrafast laser, which has also been used for micro-machining materials. The two founded IntraLaseTM Corporation to commercialize the laser for medical use, with Small Business Innovation Research grants from NSF and other agencies.

The non-profit foundation Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, based in Germany, furthers scientific research and awards the innovation prize for applied laser technology every two years. The jury for the prize includes laser inventor and Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes.

The prize was awarded October 18 in Stuttgart, Germany. [Amber Jones]

For a prior press release and video (requires RealTM Player) about the laser scalpel see:

Broadcast editors: For video, contact Dena Headlee, NSF, at (703) 292-8070/

Top of Page



National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: 703-292-8070
FIRS: 800-877-8339 | TDD: 703-292-5090

NSF Logo Graphic