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This item originally appeared in the April 28, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

By LYDIA EARHART

Staff Writer

The National Science Foundation has awarded Dr. Daniela Mainardi, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, a $400,000 grant.

Mainardi's proposal was on the modified-methanol dehydrogenase enzymatic catalysts for fuel cell devices.

Mainardi suggests the results of her proposal on bio fuel cells could be like batteries.

"It is like batteries but you don't have to buy a new one every time it runs out," Mainardi said. "It would not stop at any time and would refuel automatically."

Susan Black, a research contract administrator, said Mainardi is the first woman to receive the NSF career grant here at Tech.

"The career awards are all very prestigious awards," Black said. "These awards are a great way to represent Tech."

"Any time that faculty receive an award for anything, I think it honors the entire university," Black said.

Mainardi said she was proud to receive this award.

"I feel wonderful because I am very proud of that," Mainardi said. "[Tech] doesn't have many women in this field, but the ones we do have are successful."

She said she sent in a proposal to the NSF in July 2004.

"After I submitted the proposal, I went to a conference in November and gave a talk about the proposal," Mainardi said. "[A reviewer for the NSF] came up to me after the presentation and told me he enjoyed the presentation."

Mainardi said when she realized who he was, she had a hint the proposal would be granted.

"Oh man," Mainardi said. "I felt like I was flying."

"This grant is different than other awards because it is prestigious," Mainardi said. "This award is not given to many people."

She said the money will go to fund the equipment for the bio fuel cell research, as well as undergraduate and graduate scholarships to help conduct research, and also salaries.

"Most importantly, this is not just an accomplishment for me, but for Tech," Mainardi said. "This is not happening everyday."

She also said the NSF gives three opportunities to obtain the grant, but she got it in one try.

Mainardi said she also hopes to teach a course here at Tech in the spring of 2006 on nanosystems modeling. The course offered would be considered a technical elective for engineering majors.

Scott Gold, a professor of chemical engineering, said he is happy that Mainardi received this career grant.

"[Mainardi] is a great person to work with, and it is quite a prestigious award to receive," Gold said. "This grant makes the IFM more prestigious."


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