News Service


Marc Porter, Chemistry, (515) 294-6433
Dalene Abner, ISU Foundation (515) 294-8681
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- The W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Iowa State University that will allow researchers to set up a laboratory devoted to making scientific instruments incredibly small. This is the first Keck grant to Iowa State.

The grant will be used for the ISU Laboratory for the Fabrication of Microminiaturized Analytical Instrumentation. The new lab will be part of Iowa State's Microanalytical Instrumentation Center, which is directed by Marc Porter, an ISU professor of chemistry. It will feature the participation of faculty from several different departments and disciplines and research centers like the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.

"We are extremely delighted to have the backing of the Keck Foundation for the new microminiaturization lab," said Iowa State University President Martin Jischke. "The Keck Foundation has chosen to support one of the most advanced scientific groups at Iowa State, which is directed by Marc Porter, a leader in analytical chemistry."

The lab will allow researchers to transform present analytical instruments, such as table-top sized chemical separation devices like a chromatograph, into very small devices. Miniaturizing these devices will allow researchers to explore environments not easily accessible to humans.

For example, Porter has one group within MIC working on development of a micropump, which potentially could be no thicker than a human hair, that would allow long-term space flight. The pump could become a key element in the shrinking of a chromatograph system from the size of roughly a microwave oven to that of a silver dollar. The tiny chromatograph system would play a vital role in the recycling of water from cabin humidity and bodily wastes, an essential step for any long-term space flight.

Porter said additional projects for the new lab include further development of an atomic force microscope which one day could require only a single molecular pair for disease detection, research into how cells communicate with each other and new methods for determining the relative health of a person from a single blood cell.

"Reflecting W.M. Keck's life as a pioneer, innovator and risk taker, the Keck Foundation seeks out research, such as Iowa State's Laboratory for the Fabrication of Miniaturized Analytical Instrumentation, because it is opening new directions in science," said Maria Pellegrini, Keck program director. "The foundation is happy to participate in these efforts at Iowa State."

The Keck Foundation has a history of supporting projects that lead to scientific advances and new technology development. Since its founding in 1954, the foundation has awarded about $550 million in grants. In 1996, the Keck Foundation awarded more than $39 million.

Keck's gift is part of Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, aligned with Iowa State's strategic plan to become the best land-grant university in the nation. Conducted by the ISU Foundation, the largest campaign in ISU history has a five- year goal to raise $300 million. The campaign has generated more than $244.5 million in outright and deferred contributions from 1995 through March 31, 1998.

"This Campaign Destiny gift underscores the growing national reputation of Iowa State," said ISU Foundation National Campaign Chair Chuck Johnson, who also is president, CEO and chairman of the board of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Des Moines. "It indicates Iowa State's increasing ability to attract the type of support that is critical to funding many new initiatives in the strategic plan."

- 30 -

Iowa State homepage

University Relations,
Copyright © 1997, Iowa State University, all rights reserved
Revised 4/22/98