Carnegie Mellon University

The Pittsburgh Foundation: The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

July 25, 2013

Five MCS Professors Awarded Research Grants From Pittsburgh Foundation's Charles E. Kaufman Fund

Including chemistry professors Bruce Armitage and Danith Ly

By Ken Walters

PITTSBURGH—Six Carnegie Mellon University professors are among the first series of grant recipients of The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, part of The Pittsburgh Foundation, which today announced nearly $1.6 million in research grants to support cutting-edge scientific research at institutions across Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Mellon recipients are:

McManus and Khair will receive two-year, $150,000 New Investigator grants.  Hinman, Minden, Armitage and Ly will receive a two-year, $300,000 New Initiative grant.

The new grantmaking program, which becomes one of the major resources for scientific research in the State of Pennsylvania, will award funding annually and has been made possible through the biggest bequest to The Pittsburgh Foundation in its 68-year history.

Charles Kaufman passed away in September 2010, shortly after his 97th birthday, leaving his estate of almost $50 million to the Foundation, of which approximately $40 million was assigned to the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation to support new research initiatives at Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning in chemistry, biology and physics "for achievement in and contribution to the field and humanity."

A former chemical engineer, Kaufman amassed most of his wealth following his retirement, all of which he dedicated to his heartfelt ambition for his philanthropy to one day help fund breakthrough scientific research and, he hoped, Nobel Prize-winners whose scientific accomplishments would contribute significantly to the betterment and understanding of human life.

"The Pittsburgh Foundation worked with Mr. Kaufman on this incredible idea to use science and the power of research to drive innovations for humankind," said Grant Oliphant, The Pittsburgh Foundation's President and CEO. "Mr. Kaufman was truly remarkable, his gift was extraordinary and we are privileged to carry forward his vision to advance the scientific frontiers in a variety of fields."

Under the leadership of a seven-member Board of Directors, supported by a specially-appointed seven-member Scientific Advisory Board, systems and processes have been established to administer the Kaufman Foundation's grantmaking program. More than 170 applications were received from institutions throughout Pennsylvania when the first requests for funding were invited earlier this year.

In this, its first series of annual grants, the organization awarded funding to five initiatives in a New Investigator Research category and three grants in a New Initiative Research category.

In addition to McManus and Khair, New Investigator category recipients are:

  • Michelle Dolinski, assistant professor, Department of Physics, Drexel University, for research on "Solid Xenon Bolometers for Radiation Detection."
  • Sheereen Majd, assistant professor, Department of Bioengineering, Penn State University, for research on "Functional Studies of Multidrug Resistance Transporters at Single-Protein Level."
  • William M. Wuest, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, Temple University, for research on "The Development of Chemical Probes to Study Nucleoside Signaling in Bacterial Biofilms."

Other New Initiative grant recipients are:

  • Sergey M. Frolov, assistant professor, and W. Vincent Liu, associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, receive $242,310 over two years ($121,155 per year) for research on "Topological Quantum Wire Emulators."
  • Christine D. Keating, professor of chemistry, and Theresa Mayer, distinguished professor of electrical engineering & materials science & engineering, Penn State University, receive $300,000 over two years ($150,000 per year) for research on "Probing the Role of Interparticle Forces in the Collective Behavior of Particle Assemblies."

"These grants come at a critical time due to the constrained funding environment throughout the United States for scientific research programs," said Graham Hatfull, chair of the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board, Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology and professor of biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "Many institutions are having to close research programs because of a shortage of funding. It is our deepest hope that this is a first step in realizing the dream of the late Mr. Kaufman to inspire new research in basic science that will lead to broad impact, maybe very significant impact, for the benefit of humankind."

Summaries of all grants and funded research projects are available at:

Further information on the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation is available at its website at: