RIVERSIDE, Calif. Cheryl Hayashi, a biologist at UC Riverside and a national expert of the genetic structure of spider silk, has won a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards in the country. She is one of only 24 MacArthur Fellows for 2007 named by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Commonly known as a genius award, the MacArthur Fellowship is a no strings attached grant to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work, promise for important future advances, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate new work.
Paid in quarterly installments over five years, the grant is designed to provide recipients with seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors, as well as the flexibility to pursue their creative activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements.
This is thrilling news, said UCR Acting Chancellor Robert D. Grey. A MacArthur Fellowship is a tremendous honor and we are extremely proud of Professor Hayashi. Her trailblazing work on the genetics of spider silk is a wonderful example of the tremendous value of research on fundamental mechanisms of life. I join her colleagues at UC Riverside in offering our warmest congratulations.
Scientists have long been fascinated with spider silks used by spiders to move, trap and store food, and to reproduce because of their extraordinary mechanical properties. Different proteins are made and mixed in the silk glands of spiders to create the silk.
For more than a decade, Hayashi has been performing the molecular and mechanical characterization of these silks. Her laboratory at UCR does extensive mechanical testing of silk fibers from different spider species.
Some silks are one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, lighter than cotton, yet ounce for ounce up to five times tougher than steel. As
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University of California - Riverside