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Thomas Lane '10 Wins NSF Graduate Fellowship

Pomona College senior Thomas (TJ) Lane has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The prestigious fellowships, which support “the nation’s research leaders of tomorrow,” provide three years of support with a $30,000 annual stipend, $10,500 towards the cost of further education, a $1,000 one-time international travel allowance, and TeraGrid supercomputer access.

Lane, a chemistry major from Houston, TX, plans to work on a Ph.D. at Stanford University, focusing on the biophysics of protein folding. At Pomona College, he participated in the 2009 Summer Undergraduate Research Program, working with Chemistry Professor Malkiat Johal and fellow student Will Fletcher ’12, on the “Mechanistic Aspects of Polyelectrolyte Adsorption and Effects of Salt on Multilayer Assembly.” Their work resulted in the co-authored "Quantification of the Layer of Hydration of a Supported Lipid Bilayer," which appeared in the journal Langmuir (7, 4598-4601, 2010). He has also co-authored three other articles that have appeared in the peer-reviewed publications Journal of Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Langmuir.

Lane’s senior thesis, "Accessing Surface Excesses via Acoustical Rheology,” involved looking at how soap molecules clean grease off surfaces. “Some of the nitty-gritty details about how exactly soap behaves remains a mystery,” he explains.

“Using sound waves, physics and math, I developed an ultra-sensitive method to probe soap behavior at the solid-water interface. I discovered that soap molecules first attach to a grease layer, penetrate that layer, and then remove the grease in nano-meter sized balls of molecules. Understanding the process in such fine detail is necessary if we ever hope to rationally optimize soap formulations to be most effective at the ultimate scale - that of molecules."

Lane is the son of Tim and Lisa Lane. He graduated from Memorial High School in Houston.

In addition to Lane, six recent Pomona graduates have received NSF Graduate Research fellowships in other areas. Larissa A. Borofsky ’07 is studying neuropsychology at the University of Southern California. Hannah R. Dietterich ‘09 is in the geosciences program at the University of Oregon, Eugene, focusing on volcanogy. Carroll L. Wainwright ‘07 is studying theoretical physics at UC Santa Cruz. Saanjh A. Kishore ‘07 is in the psychology program at UCLA focusing on cognitive neuroscience. At UC Berkeley, Hannah M.W. Salim ‘09 is studying evolutionary biology, and Diana Koulechova ‘08 is studying biochemistry.