The Lehigh University Class of 1961 established the endowment in 1981 to recognize newly tenured faculty for distinction in research, teaching and service. Selection is based on departmental nominations and are decided by a university committee.
Previous award recipients in the department include Richard Vinci, 2004-06; Helen Chan, 1993-95; and Jeff Rickman, 1999-01.
Cheng established the Lab of Micro- and Nanotechnology for Diagnostics and Biology in 2008. Her interests include developing and applying engineering tools — such as micro-nanotechnology, chemical, and electrical approaches — to the study of biological problems, particularly as related to whole cells. Cheng’s research emphasis has been on biomaterials, surface modification, surface science, cell-surface interaction, biological microelectromechanical systems, and global health diagnostics. Recent research focuses on point-of-care diagnostics for CD4 counting and viral load related to HIV infection, as well as the use of microfluidic chips for cell function analysis.
In 2016, Cheng received a $50K NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) grant for the commercialization of a nanoparticle concentration device.
Cheng will be formally recognized with the professorship during Founders Day celebrations on Friday, October 27, 2017.