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Interdisciplinary Research
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Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering (IRISE)

It will take a new generation of scientists and engineers practiced in working in interdisciplinary teams to meet the major challenges of the 21st century. Rice University has a tradition of collaboration between these two groups, who combined their expertise to develop the first artificial heart and made the Nobel-Prize winning discovery of the buckyball. These game-changing breakthroughs catalyzed subsequent innovations in medical technology and biology and opened up the new field of nanotechnology.

About IRISE

Continuing this rich tradition, Rice University announces IRISE, an initiative for educating this generation of scientists and engineers whose diversity of expertise will enable them to conduct innovative research and create technologies that will protect our natural resources and improve human lives. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the IRISE program will provide the support for highly motivated graduate students to conduct interdisciplinary research focused on addressing issues critical to our nation and the world.

Rice offers terrific opportunities for research at the many interfaces within the biological and physical sciences and engineering:

  • Groundwater pollution: Physicists, chemical engineers, and chemists are developing palladium-gold catalysts to remove from our groundwater trichloroethene, one of the world's most pervasive and toxic pollutants.
  • Protein and cellular functioning: Chemical engineers and biochemists are engineering light-triggered bionanoparticles for regulating protein activity and reprogramming cells.
  • Cancer treatment: Chemists, biochemists, and physicists are using functionalized gold nanoparticles in the fight against cancer, with clinical trials already underway.
  • Neurobiology and movement disorders: Biochemists, engineers and computational scientists have designed robotics to analyze how animal movements are controlled, and to gain new insights into the genes involved in diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's.
  • Environmental impact of nanomaterials : Chemists, biochemists, and engineers are elucidating how plants, critical in the ecosystem, take up, accumulate and biotransform nanomaterials together with the resultant effects on plant physiology. These efforts will further the sustainable and responsible development and application of nanotechnologies.

IRISE is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

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