Already a nationwide leader in the study of biomaterials, Anseth's creative work at the intersection of chemistry, biology and engineering may one day lead to wide use of easily replaceable body parts for people suffering from injuries or chronic conditions.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Anseth, 35, to receive the Alan T. Waterman Award, the foundation's most prestigious for a young researcher. The award includes a medal and a $500,000 grant over a three-year period to carry out research or advanced study in the field and institution of her choosing. NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research in science and engineering across all disciplines at the nation's colleges and universities.
Anseth's award is based on groundbreaking work in new biomaterials that are engineered to help the body heal itself. Unlike synthetic body parts, such new materials may lead to new treatments for damaged knees, hips and even heart structures that will contribute to faster healing and a quicker return to a better quality of life. And despite the volume of awards, publication citations and patents listed on her resume, Anseth speaks passionately of what "can be."
That exuberance struck a chord 12 years ago with Nicholas Peppas, Anseth's academic advisor at Purdue University, where Anseth transferred after attending Williston State College in her native North Dakota. There, she played volleyball and basketball and became an academic All-American in her second year as a basketball player.