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Two Illinois researchers among world's top young innovators

8/19/2008

James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073; kloeppel@illinois.edu

Burke
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University of Illinois Photo
Chemist Martin Burke
Fang
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Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Engineer Nicholas Fang

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Two researchers at the University of Illinois – Martin D. Burke and Nicholas X. Fang – have been chosen as two of the world’s 35 Top Young Innovators by Technology Review, the world’s oldest technology magazine.

Selected by the editors of the magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the TR35 consists of people under age 35 whose innovative work in technology and business has a profound impact on today’s world. Nominees are recognized for their contribution in transforming the nature of technology in industries such as biotechnology, computing, energy, manufacturing, medicine, nanotechnology and transportation.

Burke is a professor of chemistry, and is developing a powerful new way of constructing organic molecules that uses only one reaction iteratively to stitch together a collection of off-the-shelf building blocks. This iterative cross-coupling approach is simple and flexible, and could enable faster discovery of a wide range of materials and medicines. Burke’s work focuses on harnessing the power of this strategy to discover new molecules that can replicate the functions of missing proteins that cause disease, thereby acting as “molecular prosthetics.”

Fang is a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and a researcher at the Beckman Institute. In his work, Fang seeks to bridge new frontiers in nanophotonics and nanomanufacturing. His research concentrates on creating devices for focusing light and sound at the nanometer scale, and using them for imaging and nanofabrication. This technology could lead to revolutionary methods for diagnosing living cells with molecular scale details, and for non-destructive screening of drugs and biological materials.

“The TR35 honors young innovators for accomplishments that are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review. “We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued advancement of technology in their respective fields.”

Burke, Fang and the other TR35 winners for 2008 will be featured in the September issue of Technology Review.

Editor’s note: To reach Nicholas Fang, call 217-265-8262; e-mail: nicfang@illinois.edu. To reach Martin Burke, call 217-244-8726; e-mail: burke@illinois.edu.