Small things are being done in a big way at West Virginia University and a leading researcher and expert in the field is headed to Morgantown to lead the effort, drawn by the accomplishments that have already occurred.

Diandra L. Leslie-Pelecky has been appointed the first full-time, permanent director of WVNano, West Virginia’s focal point in nanoscale science, engineering and education since 2004. Leslie-Pelecky is a veteran faculty researcher with experience leading multidisciplinary science education and research efforts.

Curt M. Peterson, WVU vice president for Research and Economic Development, announced the appointment Monday.In addition to directing WVNano, Leslie-Pelecky will be a tenured professor in the Department of Physics of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin her work at WVU by Nov. 1.

“We are fortunate to have secured Professor Leslie-Pelecky to join our team,” Peterson said. “Her experience makes her a wonderful fit with the outstanding progress that WVNano has made in establishing itself as a productive and truly multidisciplinary force for progress in this emerging field.”

Nanotechnology is the study and use of materials on a very small scale. Hundreds of new life-improving products from coatings to more effective cancer drugs are on the horizon through nanotechnology research because materials take on new properties at such a tiny scale.

WVNano research targets materials, devices, and biomolecular systems for use in public security, health, energy, and environmental applications. Research groups across the WVU campus and the state combine strengths and pursue innovations that lead to key implications for the technologies of the future.

Founded and led by WVU, WVNano’s work also involves research at Marshall University and West Virginia State University. WVNano has been led on an interim basis by David Lederman, the Dr. Robert L. Carroll Chair in Physics and a Robert C. Byrd Professor in the WVU Physics Department.

Leslie-Pelecky said she was attracted to the WVNano position because of the progress already made in the multidisciplinary approach and the growing collection of laboratory equipment at WVU that facilitates advanced research.

For example, a 3,300 square foot clean room housed at the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources but shared across all research disciplines involved with nano research, is the key hub in a set of laboratories supporting WVNano. Together with labs in physics, chemistry and health sciences, the clean room provides the means to build new nano and micro-scale devices and systems to improve lives, health and security.

“I am looking forward to working with the dynamic, exciting group of faculty and students in WVNano,” she said. “Nanoscience, engineering, and education are critical to meet national needs in health care, energy, security and the environment. WVU has established a great research infrastructure, including extensive shared research facilities, innovative education and outreach programs and a long-term vision for leadership in nanomaterials research. Any faculty member or student with an interest in nanomaterials whether in engineering, physics, chemistry, biological sciences or biomedical sciences would find WVU to be very attractive.”

Leslie-Pelecky comes to WVNano from the Physics Department of the University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to that position, she was at the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience at the University of Nebraska where she initiated interdisciplinary research and education efforts with the University of Nebraska Medical Center including successful pursuit of National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grants.

She brings to WVU a long history of education and research activity outside the lab and classroom including current service as a member of the Advisory Board, Education Programming, National High Field Magnet Laboratory; member of the American Institute of Physics Media Relations Advisory Board; and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.

Her research has focused on using nanomagnets (magnets less than one thousandth the diameter of a human hair) to improve magnetic resonance imaging, chemotherapy and other cancer diagnostic and treatment processes.

A prolific writer and popular speaker, she is the author of two books: The Physics of NASCAR in 2008 and Biomedical Applications of Nanotechnology with Vinod L. Labhashetwar in 2007. She is also the author of more than 60 articles and papers in refereed publications and has presented talks and workshops throughout America on topics from “NASCAR and the Science of Speed” to “Broadening Middle-School Student Images of Science and Scientists.”

In Nebraska, Leslie-Pelecky led an NSF-funded program that partnered graduate students in math, science and engineering with K-12 teaches to improve student learning and understanding of the exciting and varied career paths in technical fields.

Leslie-Pelecky earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University and a BS in physics and BA in Philosophy from the University of North Texas.



CONTACT: WVU University Relations/News

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