Biophysicist Amy Rowat, an associate professor and vice chair of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College, has received a National Science Foundation BRITE Fellow award that will provide $995,000 of research funding over five years.

This is the first time the foundation has given out these awards, which allow researchers to explore bold and ambitious ideas. 

Rowat’s BRITE Fellow award will advance knowledge of cells as materials, including fundamental studies to identify new molecules that regulate how cells sense and respond to physical and mechanical cues. The award will also support Rowat’s work to translate knowledge of cells as materials to develop cutting-edge scientific methods to meet the food needs of the world’s growing population, without slaughtering animals. 

One of the goals of the project is to grow animal protein in a laboratory for food. Rowat, the Marcie H. Rothman Professor of Food Studies, will conduct research on cultured meat grown from cells from an animal’s muscles — also known as slaughter-free and clean meat.

Rowat is a member of UCLA’s bioengineering department, California NanoSystems Institute, Center for Biological Physics, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Broad Stem Cell Research Center and co-lead of the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center Eatwell group. She also leads activities at the UCLA Rothman Family Institute for Food Studies, including expanding her popular science and food course and public events, and developing the chef-in-residence program.