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‘Genius’ Award Winner and TED Lecturer to Speak at UC Merced

September 20, 2017

On Sept. 22, MacArthur "Genius" Award winner and Stanford University bioengineering Professor Manu Prakash will deliver the keynote lecture at the first annual open house for UC Merced’s Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines (CCBM), a National Science Foundation Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (NSF-CREST).

The daylong open house will include a variety of events and activities related to biophysics, biochemistry and bioengineering, in addition to Prakash’s keynote.

Prakash is a renowned scientist and inventor famous for developing scientific tools from inexpensive, easy-to-obtain materials. His inventions have the potential to revolutionize medicine, diagnostics and basic science by making scientific instruments available to resource-poor regions of the world.

The Foldscope, perhaps his most famous invention, is a fully functional microscope made from 50-cents of paper. Users simply fold a paper stencil to produce a microscope powerful enough to visualize disease-causing microbes.

Prakash is also inventor of the Paperfuge, a hand-powered, lightweight, paper centrifuge that costs 20 cents to make and is capable of producing G-forces in excess of 30,000 G’s. Compare that with astronauts, who experience about 3 G’s during takeoff, or fighter pilots, who occasionally peak at 9 G’s during their most intense maneuvering. Essential to medical diagnostic labs, centrifuges spin fluids at super-high speeds to separate them into their constituent parts, which can then be analyzed to diagnose a wide array of diseases.

More than just a brilliant inventor, Prakash is also a gifted lecturer and science communicator. He’s delivered TED Talks viewed and shared millions of times (talks can be found here and here), and he’s bringing his rhetorical gifts to UC Merced.

Prakash will deliver a keynote lecture titled "Curiosity, Frugal Science and Global Health: Opportunities and Challenges.” The talk will be held at 12:45 p.m. in the Classroom & Office Building 1, Room 120. But the keynote isn’t the day’s only highlight.