To develop nanofibers potentially capable of filtering out viruses, bacteria and hazardous nanoparticles, Juan P. Hinestroza, assistant professor in the fiber science program of the Department of Textiles and Apparel in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, has won a James D. Watson Investigator Award for $200,000 over two years from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research.
Hinestroza plans to develop a high-tech, nanoscale fiber spinning process capable of producing nanofibers for high-performance filtration of contaminants, biological agents and hazardous but very small particles. It is expected that such novel filtration systems will be capable of providing protection against such hazardous substances as toxic mold and infectious agents, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
Hinestroza, who joined the Cornell faculty earlier this semester, focuses his research on understanding complex phenomena at the nanoscale that are of fundamental relevance to fiber science. Some of his work includes the use of self-assembly and atomic layer deposition methods to develop smart textiles as well as the production of polymeric multifunctional nanofibers.
The purpose of the James D. Watson Investigator Program is to assist New York state's leading research institutions to recognize, retain and professionally develop early career scientists who demonstrate leadership potential at the frontier of knowledge in the life sciences and to conduct research that is anticipated to enhance economic development in the state.