Eric Gaucher, associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Biology, was named as one of 14 young faculty from seven nations to receive an early career grant by DuPont. The DuPont Young Professor program is designed to help promising young and untenured research faculty begin their research careers.The $75,000 award is unrestricted and not tied to a specific research project.
"It is a wonderful honor to receive this award because, in many regards, it is a validation that there is utility associated with our research," said Gaucher. "This is also validation for Georgia Tech because it demonstrates that the Institute has been successful in fostering the development of research and technology that reaches beyond the academic environment."
Gaucher came to Tech in 2008 with a Ph.D. in evolutionary and biomedical sciences from the University of Florida. His research is focused on understanding the origins and evolution of life on earth. Last year, Gaucher's lab resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from a bacterium and inserted it into a modern bacterium, Escherichia coli (E. coli). As a result they've been able to watch how the gene evolves.
"Our research exploits a unique protein-engineering platform of interest to DuPont because recombinant proteins have become extremely prevalent throughout society yet we desperately need new ways to improve how such proteins are engineered and developed," said Gaucher. "We will use the money associated with this award to validate that our platform is useful to diverse sectors such as bioindustry, agriculture and biomedicine."
Since 1968, DuPont has provided nearly $50 million in grants to more than 680 young professors in more than 130 institutions in 14 countries. In addition to providing unrestricted funding to new faculty, this prestigious program enables DuPont to build future research partnerships with emerging, global academic leaders.
Research interests within the class of 2013 Young Professors represent key components of DuPont science and include promising research in the fields of: environmental remediation, genomic prediction, optics in nanoscience, pest management, phytochemicals for nutrition and medicine, plant breeding, protein engineering, studies of the human microbiome, sustainable energy and fuel production, and, water treatment and desalinization.
Professors are nominated by a member of the DuPont technical staff and the nominator serves as the liaison between the company and the faculty member. During the three-year award, each grant recipient is invited to present a seminar on his or her work to the DuPont research community.