Assistant Professor Timothy Lu has been awarded this year’s Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization. The faculty appointment is for two years beginning this July and provides an annual budget of $25,000 to support Lu’s work on his proposed project, Engineering Hybrid Biological-Electrical Systems for Ocean Engineering. Prof. Lu’s research project focuses on engineering living cells using the tools of synthetic biology and establishing novel interfaces with non-living systems, including electronic ones. This effort shall enhance the construction of hybrid biological-electrical biosensors that can be used as biosensors in the ocean.
Endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, the two-year Chair, as its web site describes, opens the way for promising, non-tenured professors to undertake marine-related research that will further innovative uses of the ocean’s resources. Prof. Lu, an RLE faculty member, received his undergraduate and M. Eng. degrees from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He has an MD from Harvard Medical School and PhD from the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Programs.
The research of previous Doherty recipients has been varied, ranging from red tide to deep sea cables, and from modeling ocean waves to DNA monitoring of coastal contaminants. The Doherty Professorship was originally established under the direction of Professor Ira Dyer when he was head of the Department of Ocean Engineering and director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program. Administration of the wide-ranging Doherty awards by the Sea Grant College Program reflects its interdisciplinary orientation to ocean research.