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Cockrell Professor Receives Packard Fellowship in Recognition of Being a Young Innovator

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has selected assistant professor Zheng Wang of the Cockrell School of Engineering as a 2013 Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering.

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The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has selected assistant professor Zheng Wang of the Cockrell School of Engineering as a 2013 Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering.

Wang is one of 16 of the nation’s most innovative young scientists and engineers receiving the Packard Fellowship this year. Each Packard fellow will receive a grant of $875,000 over five years to pursue research.

Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the fifth person from the Cockrell School to receive the fellowship, which was established in 1988 to provide young scientists early in their careers with flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields of study.

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award,” Wang said. “The Packard Fellowship offers a lot of freedom to explore potentially high-impact research directions. I am very excited to leverage this resource to expand interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues at UT Austin and beyond.”

Wang’s research is focused on using optical forces and nanoscale light as a means to propel and control nanoscale fluid flow. Potential applications include disease screening, chemical analysis and high-speed tunable nano-optics. In addition to research, Wang teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level classes.

“Zheng is exceptional. In fact, he is unique among researchers any of us have known over the last several years at his career stage he combines exceptional talent and creativity as a theorist with great expertise and sophistication in experimental research,” said Ahmed Tewfik, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He is quickly ramping up his research effort in both theoretical and experimental nanophotonics and nanomechanics.”

Each year, the Packard Foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration. The Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, a group of 12 internationally recognized scientists and engineers, evaluates the nominations and recommends fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees

Packard fellows must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and they must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered are physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science and all branches of engineering.

“The Packard Foundation believes deeply in the power of science and engineering research and is delighted to support these creative, young scientists. Their independent, exploratory research will generate new knowledge, spark fresh thinking and produce ideas that can improve the human condition,” said Lynn Orr, Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor at Stanford University and chairman of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel.

Wang also received the 2013 Sloan Fellowship earlier this year. In 2012, he was one of two Cockrell School researchers named to MIT Technology Review’s list of the world’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35.