MANHATTAN — Won Min Park, assistant professor in the Tim Taylor Department of Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University, has received a $550,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program award, known as a CAREER award, to develop a simple, modular and versatile technology to direct the folding and assembly of protein biomaterials using a molecular version of origami.The five-year project, “CAREER: Modular Protein Origami to Building Genetically Programmable Biomaterials,” will study the genetic programming of complex functionalities into the biomaterials created from this process and assess their capabilities in solving challenging and unique engineering problems.“Protein origami is a method of creating shapes by folding and assembling engineered protein building blocks,” Park said. “This process focuses on doing a molecular version of origami at the nanometer scale, using the modular tools of biological molecules such as proteins.”Park said the project also aims to produce educational activities that will train students in protein biomaterials engineering.“The technology of modular protein origami will create next-generation tools for the advancements in biomanufacturing and health care,” he said. “Additionally, the educational plans will contribute to producing students with multidisciplinary mindsets at the interface of engineering, biology and materials science.”