Daniel Gall, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation, given to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers. Gall, who joined the Resselaer faculty in 2002, will use the projected five-year, $400,000 grant -- one of the foundation's most competitive awards -- to help craft the next generation of custom nanoscale structures with unique electromechanical, catalytic and tribological functions for use in fuel cells, microrobots, hydrogen production and jet engines. He will develop a fundamental understanding of how material vapors condense on surfaces and assemble into nanostructures, which could lead to the construction of some of the world's most specialized nanomaterials, he said. He will focus his research on nitrides, building highly specialized arrays of nanopipes and nanorods by using glancing angle deposition and low-energy ion-assisted growth techniques. Gall's research will be integrated with an education and community outreach effort to teach students about nanostructures. He will design a hands-on exhibit for the Children's Museum of Science and Technology in North Greenbush, N.Y., to help children ages 5-12 develop an interest in nanotechnology by understanding atoms and how they can be arranged to create specialized nanostructured materials. He also create college-level courses and course work related to nanostructure growth.