Bakar Fellows Program seeks early-career faculty pursuing innovative research

UC Berkeley biologist Daniela Kaufer is developing a way to protect the brain from seizures. Mechanical engineer Lydia Sohn is devising a technique for identifying tumor cells that could lead to the development of new cancer drugs. Biologist Mary Wildermuth is building plant resistance to a common agricultural problem, powdery mildew, to reduce chemical fungicide use.

Feng Wang, Felix Fischer, Mary Wildermuth

Bakar Fellows (from top): Feng Wang, Felix Fischer, Mary Wildermuth

Both chemist Felix Fischer and physicist Feng Wang are working with graphene and nanotechnological methods for vastly increasing the speed and functionality of computer chips.

All five are young Berkeley faculty — and, they have one more thing in common. They are all part of the Bakar Fellows Program, a unique Berkeley initiative that exists to support the kind of innovative research these scientists are conducting, especially work that has commercial applications.

The Bakar program, now entering its third year, is inviting applications from other early career professors interested in such work for its 2104-15 cohort, Vice Chancellor for Research Graham Fleming announced Thursday (Feb. 6).

The program supports research that could translate important scientific discoveries into practical solutions in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry, biological sciences, physical sciences and in multidisciplinary work in these areas, Fleming wrote in a CalMessage.

The first cohort of Bakar Fellows was announced in June 2012. The second cohort was selected in June 2013. Each cohort  consists of faculty working in areas with a high likelihood of contributing to California’s economy, according to Fleming.

The five faculty whose work is briefly outlined above were those selected in 2013, and their projects are already showing progress. A full profile of Lydia Sohn and her work can be viewed on the Bakar Fellows website. Additional profiles will be featured on the UC Berkeley NewsCenter and on the Bakar Fellows website over the next four weeks.

Complete information about the program, the fellows and details of the application process and requirements is posted on the Bakar Fellows Program website. Applications for the new cohort of fellows are due Sunday, March 23.