Now in its sixth year, the Lay Nam Chang Dean’s Discovery Fund in the Virginia Tech College of Science recently announced research awards to support such diverse projects as cancer research, battery materials, inflammatory bowel disease, age-related distractibility, and the development of antibiotics.

This year's awarded grants exceed $160,000. In the six years, grants from this fund have supported research and educational programs valuing more than $670,000. Critical additional support comes from several departments that share in the cost of supporting these research projects.

The Dean’s Discovery Fund was established in 2017 by Sally C. Morton, a former dean of the College of Science, to support innovative ideas and research. To meet that need, Morton gained support from the College of Science Dean’s Roundtable and the College of Science Annual Fund.

“It is truly inspirational to learn about the issues that researchers in the college are exploring, from finding ways to address diseases that plague our families and friends to improving the energy sources that power our daily lives,” said Kevin Pitts, current dean of the college. “I’m delighted that the Dean’s Discovery Fund can help fuel research that could significantly impact the world in which we live.”

The awards are named after Lay Nam Chang, the founding dean of the College of Science and a professor of physics. Chang served as dean of the College of Science from 2003-16, and before that, dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences. Chang died in December 2020 at age 77.

Dean's Discovery Fund grant receipients include:

  • Daniela Cimini, professor, Department of Biological Sciences
    Project title: Size Control in Tetraploid Cancer Cells
  • Bryan Hsu, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences
    Project title: Phage ameliorates colitis in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diana Iovan, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry
    Project title: Developing iron-catalysts for hydrocarbon functionalization
  • Daniel Capelluto, associate professor, Departments of Biological Sciences, with co-primary investigator Rana Ashkar, assistant professor, Departments of Physics
    Project title: Principles of pro-autophagic membrane remodeling (resubmission)
  • Lina Quan, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry
    Project title: Reconfigurable ferroelectric 2D halide perovskites
  • Tae-Ho Lee, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, with co-primary investigator Benjamin Katz, assistant professor, Department of Human Development and Family Services in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
    Project title: Failing to ignore: the role of the locus coeruleus in age-related distractibility
  • Andrew Lowell, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, with Anne Brown, Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
    Project title: Pioneering new routes for antibiotic development: Specializing and rationally pairing drugs
  • Chixia Tian, collegiate assistant professor, Academy of Integrated Science (nanoscience), co-primary investigator, Feng Lin, associate professor, Leo and Melva Harris Faculty Fellow, Department of Chemistry Project title: Understanding and controlling the ecological impacts of battery materials
  • Brendan McGill, collegiate assistant professor, Academy of Integrated Science (nanoscience), and co-primary investigator, Patrick Huber, professor, Department of Physics
    Project title: Low-energy nuclear recoil detection via color center creation
  • Jyotishka Datta, assistant professor, Department of Statistics
    Project title: Shrinkage on simplex: Bayesian inference for sparse compositional data