Fulbright Specialist Grant

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Maynard Heather Small

Professor Heather Maynard awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant, allowing her to visit New Zealand to provide her expertise in biohybrid polymeric materials.

“I am thrilled to be awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant. My time spent in New Zealand is certain to be fruitful, providing the environment to generate new research ideas and initiate new collaborations between the University of Auckland and UCLA,“ said Maynard.

Maynard is being hosted by Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland. While in New Zealand, she will have one-on-one meetings with faculty and students in various departments and institutes throughout the campus. Discussions will also include potential for joint projects, publications, grant applications, and students exchanges to continue interactions and collaboration.

Maynard New Zealand 1
Maynard (second from right) with (from left to right) University of Auckland graduate student Paul Baek, Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, and postdoc Dr. Lenny Voorhaar. 

Maynard will also deliver six educational lectures covering topics including bio-inspired and bio-designed polymers and hydrogels for use in animal science, food science, and for biomedical applications. Specifically, polymers that mimic nature or use components from nature (biomimetic) will be described along with their synthesis, materials, and biological properties. Most compelling will be the discussion of how these materials can be used in important areas such as sustainable chemistry, green chemistry, food chemistry, and health care.

Maynard’s research focuses on combining polymers with biomolecules for applications in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and medicine. For example, Maynard recently reported in the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry on polymers that significantly increase the stability of insulin, a protein widely used as a therapeutic to treat diabetes. The article can be found here and a summary of the work was published in Chemical and Engineering News. In another recent example, Maynard reported on new polymers that are degradable and also remarkably stabilize an important protein drug employed during chemotherapy treatment, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. This work was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

She received a B.S. with honors in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992, a M.S. in Materials Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995 and her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2000. Maynard then moved to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), where from 2000-2002 she was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined the UCLA faculty in 2002 as the first Howard Reiss Career Development Chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and as a member of the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI).  

Now a full professor of chemistry, Maynard is the CNSI’s associate director of technology and development, and the director of the Chemistry Biology Interface Training Program. Of her Fulbright work in New Zealand Maynard says: “My research focus has been mainly on the design and synthesis of polymers for protein drug delivery and other medical applications. We have also found that the same materials can be used to enhance stability of enzymes employed in animal feed and potentially for other food-related applications. I am excited not only to share my expertise in New Zealand, but also to learn from the University of Auckland researchers how to apply my biomimetic polymers to food applications. It is known that the demand for food will rise significantly; such research is important for society.” 

Maynard has been named a member of the Defense Science Study Group for 2016-2018 and has received the Amgen New Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, Seaborg Award for Outstanding Research, the Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching, the UCLA Herbert Newby McCoy Award, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. She is also an ACS Poly, Leverhulme, Kavli Frontiers, and Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, and was elected a 2017 Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering (PMSE) Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Additionally, she serves on the editorial board of Polymer Chemistry and Chem and the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Polymer Science A Polymer Chemistry, Macromolecular Biosciences, Bioconjugate Chemistry, and Biomacromolecules.  

To learn more, visit Maynard’s group website.