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$500,000 is a lot of money. Just ask Assistant Chemical Engineering Professor Kyle Vanderlick, who was recently awarded $500,000 over the next five years for research as part of the Packard fellowship. "It kicks your research program into another gear," Vanderlick said. "You have a true advantage if you have that money available." The fellowship is considered a high honor in the scientific area with only 20 being awarded a year nationwide. "The fellowship is the most prestigious, and certainly the most money a young person can get," said Assistant Chemistry Professor Gregory Voth who received a Packard Fellowship last year. Voth said the fellowship has allowed him to expand his research and become more independent. He added that the fellowship is a major boon to any researcher. Vanderlick said yesterday that her fellowship will go towards studying surfactants -- such as soap, where one side of a molecule is attracted to water and the other repelled -- and ultrathin organic films. Vanderlick uses the one molecule wide films to design surfaces to study interaction between them, such as adhesion and wetting -- the condition in which a drop of water spreads out when dropped on a surface. She can examine the attractive forces between surfaces with a piece of equipment called the Surface Forces Apparatus. The apparatus brings two surfaces together to the point of contact or pulls them apart. "Once you understand what molecules are doing, you can control [them]," Vanderlick said. There are few guidelines on the award, with unrestricted use of $450,000. Voth said the foundation, sponsored by David and Lucile Packard of the Hewlett-Packard Company, requires just minimal updates. "You just give a brief talk [at the annual conference] and they want a one page report at the end of the year on how things are going," Voth said. The University will receive the remaining $50,000 to cover administrative costs. Vanderlick earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. She became an assistant professor at the University three years ago.

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