Department News

Knowles, Poletti are Furth Fund award recipients

April 13, 2018

Professor KnowlesKathryn Knowles, assistant professor of chemistry, and Martina Poletti, assistant professor of neuroscience, are this year’s recipients of University Furth Fund awards. The Furth Fund, established through the generosity of Valerie and Frank Furth, provides early career scientists with $10,000 in research funds. The funds are used to promote the research activities of the faculty member, which may include the purchase of new equipment or support for graduate students or postdocs. 

Research in the Knowles group focuses on studying the fundamental optical, electronic, and chemical properties of transition metal oxide nanocrystals and thin films. The inexpensive and nontoxic composition of these materials, their ability to absorb sunlight, and their stability to electrochemical degradation make them ideal candidates for applications in solar energy conversion and energy storage technologies.

“Prof. Knowles is leveraging her expertise in colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals to build a creative, interdisciplinary research program centered in materials chemistry,” says Todd Krauss, professor and chair of chemistry.  Knowles “is a superb junior faculty member who is on track to become a prominent researcher in materials chemistry, and who has already made a significant positive impact on our department.”  Learn more about the Knowles Lab here.

Poletti studies the “finely orchestrated interplay between sensory processing, the control of motor behavior, and the allocation of attentional resources” in enabling visual perception, with a particular interest in fine spatial vision processes in the foveola.  This is a small high-acuity region of the retina that humans use to inspect objects of interest.  Foveal vision is fundamental for normal functioning,  yet surprisingly little is known about its mechanisms.

Poletti “strongly exemplifies the highest professional qualities of a junior, tenure track faculty member: productive, innovative researcher with an early and strong publication track record in highly competitive and visible journals; and, highly-competitive grant funding,” says John Foxe, director of the Ernest J. Del Montie Institute for Neuroscience and chair of neuroscience.  “Her background and research on human visual perception, attention, and oculomotor control enrich the Department of Neuroscience and complement well the research programs of fellow faculty members.”

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