University of Texas at Austin Chemistry Assistant Professor Livia Eberlin, photo courtesy of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named Livia Eberlin, 32, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, as one of its fellows for 2018.

In all, the foundation awarded 25 fellowships, known as MacArthur Genius awards, and Eberlin was the only recipient in Texas.

“Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities. Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all,” Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director, MacArthur Fellows Program, said in a news statement.

The Eberlin Lab at UT Austin has developed the MasSpec Pen, which provides a better way for surgeons to rapidly perform and diagnose cancer biopsies. It allows surgeons to extract molecules from tissue and test samples in real time. The sample is then analyzed through a database to see if it matches a cancer type.

“This platform identifies cancerous tissue with a high degree of sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and speed, and Eberlin is currently refining and testing the MasSpec Pen for use in surgery,” according to the foundation. “Her technological innovations have the potential to improve health care by decreasing the time between diagnosis to treatment and increasing the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and surgical interventions.

Silicon Hills News first wrote about the invention in 2016 after Eberlin presented the invention at the Innovation Center’s Startup Studio.

Eberlin received a B.S. from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 2012 to 2015, and in 2016 she joined the faculty of UT Austin.

The MacArthur Fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 paid out over five years.

The three criteria for choosing a fellow include exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Since 1981, 1014 people have been named MacArthur Fellows.