Gong Named 2016 Beckman Young Investigator

Yiyang Gong, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and neurobiology at Duke University, has been named a 2016 Beckman Young Investigator by the Beckman Foundation.

The $750,000, four-year award will support Gong’s research into understanding how neurons in the brain work together on millisecond timescales. In recent research, Gong created an ultrafast protein sensor that can optically detect action potentials between neurons in live mice and flies. Building on that work, Gong will create a set of new protein and optical tools that will quickly record and stimulate neural activity.

Arnold O. Beckman took his love of science from the makeshift laboratory he made in his father’s barn at age 10 to the halls of the scientific instrument company he founded, Beckman Instruments. Considered one of the top five inventors of scientific instruments, Beckman invented the precursor to the modern pH meter—an invention that eventually earned him a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and a National Medal of Science, among other honors.

The award program that bears Beckman’s name is intended to provide research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of academic careers in the chemical and life sciences. It is particularly aimed to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.