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UC Riverside Chemist on Fast Track

UC Riverside Chemist Off to Incredible Start

Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award is Fourth Big Grant for Pingyun Feng

(June 8, 2004)

Pingyun Feng

Pingyun Feng

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (June 7, 2004) -- If three times makes a charm, a young UC Riverside scientist is having a more-than-magical year.

Assistant Professor Pingyun Feng’s recent Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which provides $60,000 to advance her teaching and research, joins three other major awards that have gotten Feng’s academic career off to an exceptional start -- and are providing a total of $910,000 to support her work.

“The Dreyfuss Award is exceptionally competitive and I am so proud of all Dr. Feng has accomplished this year, both as a distinguished researcher and teacher,” said UC Riverside Chancellor France A. Cordova, an astrophysicist.

Feng, a chemist, learned about her Dreyfus award in April. She also holds a Career award from the National Science Foundation that will provide $570,000, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship for $40,000, and the Beckman Young Investigator Award, which comes with $240,000 over three years.

Recently Feng got more good news: Effective July 1, she will be an associate professor, with tenure. “She’s accomplished that relatively quickly,” said Barbara Carrillo, assistant to department chairman Christopher Switzer. “That’s a very big deal.”

On the faculty at UC Riverside since 2000, Feng said she feels very lucky. The good fortune comes with added responsibility, she said: “I need to work harder to live up to the expectation.”

Feng and her research team look for ways to make and control catalytic, electronic and optical materials to allow development of new technologies and chemical production methods. She plans to use grant money to support undergraduate and graduate students working on projects such as synthesis and characterization of porous materials, solid electrolytes and nanoclusters.

"Business Week" Editor Otis Port lauded Feng’s work in the March 3, 2003, edition, noting that pharmaceutical companies would like to make more use of zeolites, a very effective catalyst, but the pores of the material are too small -- less than 1 nanometer in diameter -- for many drug molecules to enter. “Enter four new families of porous materials developed by chemists at the University of California, Riverside,” Port wrote. “Like zeolites, they can be made with uniform hole sizes -- only larger. That could open the way to brand new biochemical production methods. And because the materials developed by researcher Pingyun Feng and her team include semiconductors such as gallium and germanium, they may also lead to new electrochemical sensors.”

Feng received her doctorate in chemistry in 1998 from UC Santa Barbara. She lives in Riverside.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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