Angela Belcher, 34
University of Texas at Austin
Angela Belcher “fell in love” with molecules as a college freshman. As a doctoral student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she answered provocative questions that fused the biological and physical sciences. Chief among them: could proteins sculpt the structure of semiconductors? Belcher identified a series of proteins that bind to semiconducting nanoparticles and used them to help direct the assembly of the nanoparticles in ways not possible before. Belcher and her postdoctoral advisor, Evelyn Hu, formed a company, Semzyme, based in Santa Barbara, CA,to create such protein tools. Now at the University of Texas, Belcher says her passion for science remains so intense that she often wakes at 2:00 a.m. ready to head to the lab. Recently, her team discovered a novel way to make liquid crystalline films. Belcher is also using proteins loaded with semiconductors to help create nanoscale “quantum wires”for tiny electronic components. Belcher plans to continue her research this fall as an MIT professor.