CWRU receives two Ohio Eminent Scholars

July 20, 2001

CLEVELAND -- Two research programs at Case Western Reserve University were recognized Thursday, July 19, by Governor Bob Taft and the Ohio Board of Regents as sites for new Ohio Eminent Scholars.

The University was one of 16 finalists from a total of 53 universities and colleges statewide that applied to the prestigious program. Seven programs were funded.

The Case School of Engineering has received a $750,000 grant for faculty endowment from the Ohio Eminent Scholars Program to support high-energy density fuel cell research from the Ohio Eminent Scholars Program. An accompanying capital grant of $500,000 will support equipment and facilities to be used by the person appointed to the professorship. Both grants must be matched by funds from other sources.

In addition to the seven programs funded, the College of Arts and Sciences' condensed matter physics research group was one of four programs approved by the Board of Regents as an Ohio Eminent Scholar, but it has not yet funded. The Department of Physics is an established leader in condensed matter physics, which focuses on interdisciplinary research in biophotonics, nanoscopic physics, and soft condensed matter physics.

The Board of Regents' competition for endowed Eminent Scholar faculty positions recognizes and fosters national eminence of selected outstanding academic programs at Ohio colleges and universities. Institutions that receive grant money from the program use the funds as endowments to finance compensation and related expenses involved in bringing new faculty members into the institutions, where they are engaged in teaching and research in high-priority fields.

"The Case School of Engineering will use this grant to attract a world-class researcher to serve as initiator and catalyst for interdisciplinary research and educational activities related to fuel cells; the transfer of fuel cell technology through intellectual property protection, licensing, and facilitating new company start-ups in Northeast Ohio; and act as a powerful resource for technology transfer and economic development," said Robert Savinell, interim dean of the Case School of Engineering and former director of the University's Ernest B. Yeager Center for Electrochemical Science.

The University will use the grant to supplement the F. Alex Nason Professorship in Science and Engineering, an endowed professorship in the Case School of Engineering named for the former chair of Ohio-based Lubrizol Corporation. The University also will establish the Case Institute for Fuel Cells, where the Ohio Eminent Scholar in high-energy density fuel cell research will lead the development of fuel cells technology through research, education, and technical support.

"This is an enormous honor and provides a great opportunity," said James Wagner, interim president of CWRU. "The Ohio Eminent Scholars Program is also a statement about Ohio's support for research and scholarship and the understanding of the role that higher education can play in addressing critical state needs, including state economic development, the strengthening of Ohio's K-12 education, and the improvement of public health and safety.

Wagner added, "CWRU submitted eight proposals to the Ohio Board of Regents, and three of those earned site visits to our campus. We are delighted to be named to the program for our research into fuel cells, which we consider one of the most promising new technologies for meeting world-wide energy needs in the 21st century."

The physics department proposed to recruit its distinguished scholar in one of three fields -- biophotonics, a new research field that looks at the applications of optical and imagining techniques to solve problems in biology and medicine; nanoscopic physics, which will be used in the next generation of electronic and photonic devices as they scale down from a microscale to a quantum one; and soft condensed matter physics, which involves the physics of polymers, liquid crystals, and other complex fluids found in today's technology.

"The physics department has been a bellwether department in establishing an outstanding reputation in particle astrophysics and condensed matter physics," said Samuel Savin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"This award would enable us to hire one more outstanding professor to build on the strength we have here," he added. "In the last few years, the physics department's condensed matter group has produced discoveries with potential commercial appeal, and in that respect this award would meet one of the Ohio Eminent Scholar's goals of enhancing the economic well-being of the state of Ohio."

Case Western Reserve University

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