Ben Evans named recipient of full-year Elon sabbatical

The A.L. Hook Emerging Scholar in Science and Mathematics will spend 2015-16 working with a research team at Duke University on new methods for sorting and studying cells using technology developed at Elon University.

Associate Professor Ben Evans
Associate Professor Ben Evans in the Department of Physics has been named the recipient of a full-year, full-pay sabbatical, an Elon University award for faculty members who propose a significant research project in their fields and who demonstrate a record of scholarly excellence.

Evans’ project to be performed in collaboration with biomedical engineers at Duke University expands on his work with magnetic microspheres, which have applications in biotechnology and biomedical engineering.

The 2015-16 academic year sabbatical will be dedicated to pursuing a number of newly formed projects with Duke researchers, to building strong working relationships with their faculty, and to developing lasting, mutually beneficial relationships between both schools, Evans said.

After reading a manuscript in which Evans and his students reported on a new type of magnetic microsphere they developed at Elon, a Duke research group recognized that Elon’s microspheres had the potential to enhance the sorting capabilities of a similar system in their own laboratories.

Such a technique could be used to sequester rare populations of cells for diagnosis (for instance, circulating tumor cells) or to enrich targeted cell populations for analysis. Researchers at both schools expect their discoveries to lead to a powerful expansion of the way in which cells can be sorted simultaneously into distinct populations.

“Undergraduate research at Elon is growing rapidly,” Evans said of his award, “and supporting high-quality research will often require high-dollar facilities and collaborators with high-level disciplinary expertise.”

Evans, Elon’s A.L. Hook Emerging Scholar in Science and Mathematics, is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and conference papers, and he is a leader in undergraduate research mentoring.

The first recipient of the full-year, full-pay sabbatical was David Crowe in 2009-10. Subsequent recipients of the highly competitive award have been Charles Irons (2010-11), Cindy Fair (2011-12), Victoria Fischer Faw (2012-13), Barbara Miller (2013-14), and Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler (2014-15).