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Chemistry professor named Sloan Research Fellow

Matthew Bush

Matthew Bush -

Professor Matthew Bush, assistant professor in chemistry, has been selected as one of 126 Sloan research fellows for 2014.

Photo by Nap Poshyananda

Every year, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been awarding early-career scientists and scholars a two-year fund of $50,000 to further their research.

Matthew Bush, UW assistant professor of chemistry, was one of 126 Sloan Research Fellow recipients for 2014. This is the fifth year the UW has produced a Sloan Research Fellow. Three UW faculty members were named in 2013, 2012, and 2010, with six receiving the award in 2011.

Bush was the only recipient of this year’s fellowship from the UW. According to the Sloan Foundation announcement Feb. 18, the fellowships are given to researchers in the United States and Canada, whose achievements and potential identify them as rising, scientific leaders.

“I’ve known Sloan Fellows in the past, so it was a great honor. Not a lot of people in my area have received this award before,” Bush said. “Federally sponsored research is strained, [so] having flexible funding at this critical point in my career is really important, it opens more doors.”

Bush joined the chemistry faculty at the UW in 2011, and has been researching with the Bush Lab for two and a half years. The Bush Lab consists of six graduate students and one undergraduate. His group’s research focuses on the development and application of mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry techniques. These studies explain the structures and assembly of protein complexes and subcellular machines. Protein complexes are different structures of polypeptide chains, formed from amino acids. Subcellular machines help examine what’s occurring within a cell.

Kimberly Davidson, a graduate student from the University of Oregon, said joining the Bush Lab has opened her eyes to see chemistry from a different perspective.

“It’s exciting to have a PI (principal investigator) that’s so eager and motivated about science,” Davidson said. “Since only 126 professors receive this award, this recognition puts him on the map as an innovative scientist, who’s able to come up with new ideas, put them out there, and produce results.”

Ken Laszlo, a graduate student from the Georgia Institute of Technology, joined the Bush Lab in summer 2012 to research protein structures. Laszlo said the research group has drastically affected his study of chemistry.

“The Sloan Research Fellow is very prestigious. The research and what Matt’s proposing is being recognized, so we feel like what we’re doing is important,” Laszlo said. “Some of the systems we’re looking at can be used in broad clinical applications, treating a million different diseases. We’re really fortunate to have somebody willing to support us.”

Dr. Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said Sloan Research Fellows are pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge in unprecedented ways.

“The Sloan Foundation has been proud to honor the best young scientific minds and support them during a crucial phase of their careers when early funding and recognition can really make a difference,” Joskow said in a statement.

Bush said the grant will be used toward building instruments, understanding structures of biological molecules, and investigating proteins related to human disease. Bush hopes to use the funding to continue new projects that had no outside funding, and as a gateway for new directions.

“We started off with an empty lab space. Over the two and a half years, I’ve seen the growth of my students and projects. It’s really remarkable to see where we are now,” Bush said. “I really appreciate the support and congrats from my colleagues and the university.”

Reach contributing writer Esther Yun at development@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @estheryun_

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