Dr. John Evans with his ubiquitous skateboard
Dr. John Evans, Associate Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial
Biology and of Chemistry, is analyzing seashells for clues that could
aid in the development of nanotechnology engineering, a process in
which particles one billionth of a meter in diameter would be used
to build a new generation of stronger materials, one molecule at a
time, for applications ranging from consumer goods to industrial,
dental, and medical devices.
Dr. Evans is
the principal or coinvestigator on three federal grants designed
to provide nanotechnology engineers with a better understanding
of the natural processes by which proteins bind to inorganic atoms
at ambient temperatures, as they do in the development of seashells.
Understanding these processes will help engineers to design nanoscopic
assemblers — tiny machines that bind proteins and inorganic atoms,
one by one, into finished products, a development that could lead
to more efficient manufacturing processes. Each grant examines a
different example of binding proteins to inorganic matter.
study, on which Dr. Evans is the principal investigator, is supported
by a four-year grant in the amount of $497,000 from the U.S. Department
of Energy. Dr. Evans is also the principal investigator on a three-year
grant totaling $178,000, which was awarded by the U.S. Army for
a study examining how proteins can be engineered to crystallize
in a test tube at room temperatures. And the Department of Defense
has awarded a three-year grant in the amount of $120,000 for a study
of the mechanisms by which protein chains interact with gold, silver,
cadmium sulfide, and other inorganic substances. Dr. Evans is a
coinvestigator on this grant, which is being conducted in collaboration
with the University of Washington.