Enrique Rojas (Biology) has been named a 2021 Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. One of only twenty early-career scientists and engineers so honored, he will receive $875,000 over five years to pursue his research into the growth of single-celled microbes.
“Packard Fellows are shaping the future of research and academia, and the future of our world as we understand it,” said Richard Alley, Chair of the Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, and 1991 Packard Fellow. “I look forward to strengthening the bonds within our fantastic community of leading scientists and engineers.”
Rojas explains his work this way: “Single-celled microbes are not only the smallest living organisms but, pound-for-pound, they are by far the fastest growing organisms. In my lab, we investigate how microbes are able to achieve these incredibly fast growth rates, focusing on how they generate and manipulate the enormous mechanical forces required to do so. In other words, we study how cells stretch themselves in order to grow! Because microbial growth underlies ecology in nearly every environment on earth, including the gut microbiome, the soil, and the oceans, this research will have direct implications for our understanding of human health and disease, agriculture, and biotechnology.”
He went on to say: “Of course I was super stoked to receive the Packard Fellowship, but my secret weapons are really the students and postdocs in my lab, who are an adventurous bunch of scientists trailblazing a very new area of microbiology, so this is actually an honor earned by them and for them.”