UCLA Physical Sciences Mautner Graduate Awards

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Chemistry graduate students Wei Chen (Zink lab), Cheng-Wei Lin (Kaner lab), and Mary Waddington (Spokoyny lab) to receive 2018 Mautner Graduate Awards.

In recognition of receiving the Mautner Graduate Awards, each student will receive a $5,000 prize and will attend a dinner with the 2018 Mautner Memorial Lecture Series Distinguished Guest Lecturer, Nobel Laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart. The awards will be presented at the Mautner Public Lecture on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

The Mautner Graduate Awards recognize currently enrolled meritorious graduate students who are conducting research in the areas related to the topic of the Mautner Research Lecture. Stoddart’s topic is “Engines through the Ages.”

Stoddart’s Mautner Public Lecture titled “My Journey to Stockholm”, geared towards non-scientists, will take place on Tuesday, November 27, at 6 p.m. His Mautner Research Lecture will take place on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 4 p.m. Both lectures will be held at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) and are open to the public. Admission is free.


The Mautner Memorial Lecture Series and Graduate Awards were established by the late Leonard Mautner (pictured right) in 1983 to recognize the importance of scientific thought and provide a forum for the dissemination of scientific discovery to students and the public. UCLA presents the Mautner Memorial Lectures every two years, alternating between the Divisions of Physical and Life Sciences. 

About the 2018 Mautner Graduate Fellows

WeiWei Chen – Wei is a 5th year Chemistry graduate student (materials specialization) in Professor Jeffrey Zink’s group. A native of Nantou, Taiwan, Wei received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from National Taiwan University. He is the first of his family to receive an undergraduate degree and the first to go to graduate school. “I would like to gratefully express my gratitude to the donor family who provided the award and to the committee members for carefully considering my application material,” Wei said.

Wei developed an innovative strategy and nanomachine to achieve spatial, temporal, and dose control of drug delivery using non-invasive magnetic stimulation. Thermo-sensitive molecular gatekeepers attached to the surface of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) are stimulated by superparamagnetic heating and thus control the dosage and timing of drug delivery. In addition, Wei developed a “chaperone-assisted” strategy for enabling both high loading and high release amounts of a water-insoluble antibiotic drug using MSNs. This drug delivery strategy efficiently killed M. tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for the widespread intracellular infectious disease tuberculosis that causes millions of deaths annually.

In October 2018, Wei was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Yin Chin Foundation of USA and STUF United Fund Inc.

Lin%2CChengWeiCheng-Wei Lin – A 6th year Chemistry graduate student in Professor Richard Kaner’s group, Cheng-Wei received his B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from National TsingHua University. In 2011, he joined Professor Jiaxing Huang’s lab at Northwestern University and earned a Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering.

“As the only person in my family who went on to graduate school and studied science, I appreciate my family, especially my parents, for supporting me financially and spiritually to pursue what I’ve been seeking – the beauty of science and technology to make life better,” said Cheng-Wei. “My family believes in ‘diligence makes up for deficiency,’ so that I have always tried my best and been willing to spend the extra effort to make things work. This attitude, I believe, reflects well on my research and life.”

Cheng-Wei’s research is focused on both fundamental research and applications of conducting polyaniline and aniline oligomers. He and Kaner have collaborated with Professor Gaurav Sant and Professor Eric Hoek in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where their polyaniline and aniline tetramer composites have been used to fabricate membranes for gas and water separations. Analogous to one of the goals of Stoddart’s molecular pumps is to make people’s lives better. A representative project is Carbon Upcycling for the NGO XPrize Carbon Competition where gas separation membranes are used to separate CO2, the greenhouse gas, out from power plant emissions and incorporated into concrete for green construction projects. In another venture with Hoek, ultrafiltration membranes are modified with a novel UV reactive aniline tetramer that is expected to extend the lifetime of ultrafiltration membranes in order to provide clean water efficiently.

Cheng-Wei received the Hanson-Dow Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018 and was one of fourteen Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate student researchers to receive the 2018-2019 UCLA Graduate Division Dissertation Year Fellowship.

Waddington%2C%20Mary%202017Mary Waddington

– Mary is a 3rd year Chemistry graduate student in the lab of Professor Alexander Spokoyny. Her current work explores the understanding of molecular recognition and the generation of supramolecular structures. By appending biological building blocks to hydrophobic boron clusters, such moieties can be drawn into the cavity of cyclodextrin receptors. Varying the substitutional pattern on the cluster core can modulate the affinity of the biomolecule to the receptor. Modulation of affinity could enable the use of cyclodextrins as selective docking points.  

In addition to her research, Mary has taken an active role in chemistry-based outreach by leading demonstrations at events aimed at engaging K-12 youth. As a first generation college student, Mary feels that it is crucial to maintain no-cost programs to better reach underserved populations.

“Increasing scientific interest within the greater Los Angeles community is particularly important to me,” Mary said. “Attending outreach events at local libraries and parks when I was a child were some of the first interactions I had with “real” scientists, and they prompted me to view science as a viable path for my future. It is crucial to maintain no-cost programs to better reach underserved populations; I will continue to advocate for these efforts throughout the remainder of my degree at UCLA and future career.”

In 2017, Mary was one of four Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate students to receive a highly competitive Honorable Mention 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award and was selected for the AFRL 2017 Space Scholars Program to work on ionic liquid tailoring for thin conductive film electrodeposition.

Mary would like to express her gratitude to the selection committee and the Mautner family.