Qingze Zou is one of those behind-the-scenes types, though in a way that just might save lives someday. In 2009, while teaching at Iowa State University, the mechanical engineer received a National Science Foundation award of $400,000 over five years to develop a microscope that will observe cells in extreme detail. “It will help people understand cell behaviors better,” Zou says, “and help develop, for example, better medical materials for cancer patients. I provide the tools for other researchers to make things better.”
Taking the Nano View
And, as a first-year assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the School of Engineering in New Brunswick, he’s now doing it at Rutgers. The Chinese émigré, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, was recruited with the support of the $1 million Peter and Peggy Cherasia Fund, which helps build the engineering school’s faculty.
“To the extent that research and development, getting grants, and bringing in quality professors helps to drive forward both the undergraduate and graduate programs, this fund will help the school attract very talented professors,” says Peter Cherasia, head of markets strategies at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Although Cherasia graduated with an electrical engineering degree from Rutgers in 1984, he quickly got into finance, where he’s applied the skills he acquired at Rutgers—“breaking things down into constituent components and then adding them back up”—to ascend the investment-banking ranks. The fund, he says, is his way of perpetuating the engineering school’s ongoing progress.
I provide the tools for other researchers to make things better.
As for Zou, he’s excited to be affiliated with an engineering school that provides him with the resources needed to conduct his research. “I also want to get the next generation interested in these areas, medical and nanotechnology,” he says. “It’s where the jobs are, and I want to prepare them for those careers.”
(This story originally appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Rutgers Magazine.)