WASHINGTON, D.C. (TIP): Two Indian American professors -University of Maryland Professor Sumant Nigam and Wright State University Professor Sharmila Mukhopadhyay – have been named 2016-2017 Jefferson Science Fellows by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The innovative fellows program engages the nation’s academic scientists, engineers and physicians in U.S. foreign policy. Nigam is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland, and Mukhopadhyay is a Wright State University professor of materials science and engineering.
Fellows spend one year at the State Department or USAID for an on-site assignment in Washington, D.C., that could involve extended stays at U.S. foreign embassies and missions. They will remain available to the U.S. Department of State/USAID for short-term projects over the subsequent five years.\ Nigam studies atmospheric general circulation and teleconnections, climate dynamics, tropical ocean-atmosphere interaction, aerosols and Asian monsoon, and Great Plains hydroclimate variability and droughts.
He chairs the Climate Variability and Change Committee of the American Meteorological Society, chairs the Advisory Panel for the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, and serves on the International Commission on Dynamical Meteorology. Nigam is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the Royal Meteorological Society. He earned his master’s degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1978 and his Ph.D. in geophysical fluid dynamics from Princeton University in 1984; he held a postdoctoral position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1984 to 1987.
Mukhopadhyay, a nanotechnology researcher, has focused her research on the intersection of nanotechnology and nano-biosciences. It includes the design of safe and sustainable nanomaterials for energy, environment and biomedical applications that has resulted in the generation of new catalysts, energy storage materials, antibacterial surfaces, biosensors and bone and muscle tissue scaffolds.
For example, Mukhopadhyay and her research team are developing near molecular-sized “nano-brushes.” These fuzzy structures have bristles made up of thousands of tiny, jellyfish-like strands. The increased surface area of the bristles, with proper coatings, enables them to behave like powerful cleaners that kill bacteria and destroy contaminants that pollute water. Mukhopadhyay obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. from Cornell University.