Full Speed Ahead for Undergraduate Joe Tracey

by Dr. Jasna Jankovic for IMS

Joe Tracey and Adarsh Kongani
Joe Tracey (left) helps high school student, Adarsh Kongani of Amity High School, with his science project

Dr. Jasna Jankovic is excited about the future for Materials Science and Engineering undergraduate, Joe Tracey. She recently responded to an IMS News call for student news. Here is what Dr. Jankovic had to say about Joe:

I met Joe Tracey at the MSE Open House in September 2018. He was handing out those famous frozen marshmallows and enthusiastically explaining to visitors about materials science. He was curious about my research on clean energy and microscopy and in no time he found himself in my lab doing MSE 4989 Introduction to Research under my supervision. I tasked Joe with image processing of 3D microscopy images using Python coding language.

Soon enough I realized that Joe was very advanced in this work, and very motivated to learn and progress. In the short 6 months since he had started research in my group, Joe has not stopped to line up successes. He started working on a collaborative project with DigiM Solutions, one of my industrial collaborators, on image processing using machine learning. That work has already resulted in an accepted abstract with Joe as the first author for a presentation at the Microscopy and Microanalysis conference in Portland, OR, in August. Another publication titled Iterative Machine Learning Method for Pore-Back Artifact Mitigation in High Porosity Membrane FIB-SEM Image Segmentation in the Conference Proceedings.

Joe was awarded a UConn Undergraduate Travel Award for his trip to the conference. Although the funding did not fully cover his travel expenses, after my suggestion, Joe applied for and was granted the undergraduate IDEA Grant for his great idea to develop virtual reality module to teach students and kids material science. He will be working on that over the summer.

Joe has also been helping a high school student in my lab with his science project, and went above and beyond to make sure the student’s experiment is competed in time. Thank you, Joe!

What will Joe do this summer? Beside his work on the IDEA Grant project, Joe will be doing an internship at DigiM, gaining industrial experience in image processing and machine learning. He promised to be back to my lab in September, to continue research work that we have started.

Way to go, Joe! The sky is the limit!

Graduate Student Ayana Ghosh Wins Prestigious Fellowship Award

Student Ayana Ghosh
Graduate student Ayana Ghosh has been honored with the prestigious John Tanaka Fellowship Award for her extensive work and research into Computational Materials Design

MSE graduate student Ayana Ghosh has been named as the recipient of the prestigious John Tanaka Graduate Student Fellowship award, which is given annually to a UConn graduate student in the United States’ oldest honor society, Phi Kappa Phi.

The award, which was established in 1993, is named after chemistry professor emeritus and former Director of the Honors Programs, Dr. John Tanaka. Professor Tanaka led Phi Kappa Phi at UConn for many years during his 45 year career at UConn. He also taught inorganic chemistry, and advised many undergraduate and graduate students. Although he passed away seven years ago in April 2012, his name lives on in this prestigious award.

Ayana said she is “very pleased” to have won the award.

“This type of recognition always acts as a catalyst for me to continue my daily efforts in research, learn more, and perform better,” she said. “I am extremely grateful to receive exceptional mentorship from my advisors at UConn, Pfizer Inc. and Los Alamos National Laboratory as well as my previous institutions that have shaped my academic career to date. I wish to continue performing cutting-edge research on a wide-range of materials with present-day and prospective technological and medical applications while being engaged in events to encourage younger individuals to pursue careers of their choices, especially in STEM fields.”

Read the full story from the Materials Science and Engineering Department

Five-year Ph.D. Alumnus Paves Way for Breakthrough Electron Microscopy

Dr. Kyle Crosby
Dr. Kyle Crosby in the ZEISS lab next to a MultiSEM microscope. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Crosby)

Kyle Crosby earned his undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and his Ph.D. in materials science at UConn after spending nearly a decade working and researching in the department. He now works for ZEISS Microscopy, the German company behind MultiSEM, the world’s fastest scanning electron microscope which is used to scan everything from mouse brains to microchips to shale rocks. A Pennsylvania native, Dr. Crosby came to UConn MSE both to experience something new, and to receive a top-notch engineering education.

To start, tell us about your work.
Imaging and spectroscopy, specifically electron microscopy, are subjects I’ve been interested in since I worked with these tools at UConn. I’m currently in a business development role supporting sales and service colleagues from an applications and product marketing perspective. While I’m not directly operating a microscope much of the time, the hands-on experience from the MSE department and from my experiences as a research assistant are a huge help in understanding customer challenges and showcasing products to potential clients. The work I’ve done with MultiSEM, which is a highly unique multiple parallel-beam electron microscope, has allowed me to interact with leading researchers at Harvard, Sandia National Lab, and other innovative institutions around the world. I also coordinated sponsorship and served as an industry advisor on an MSE Senior Design project for students doing work that relates to this technology, so the journey from student to mentor has truly come full circle.

Read the full interview from the Materials Science and Engineering Department

New Engineering Program Aims to Attract the Most Talented Entrepreneurs to Connecticut

Dr. Mei Wei
Dr. Mei Wei

In a push to attract highly talented entrepreneurs from around the world to the state of Connecticut, UConn is launching a new Master’s of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship, the first engineering-focused entrepreneurial graduate degree in the state.

The new master’s degree program, a partnership between the UConn Schools of Engineering and Business, Trinity College, and the University of New Haven, is intended to create a nurturing ecosystem for a profession that sees 90 percent of start-ups fold. It will enable novice entrepreneurs to learn best practices, receive mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs, and be set up for success.

“This program, and its related initiatives, will be a major step towards bringing in the best and the brightest from all over the world, giving them the tools they need, and turning them into major entrepreneurial advocates for the state of Connecticut,” says Associate Dean of Engineering Dr. Mei Wei. “If we can bring them in early, train them, and open up doors toward commercialization, then we can literally help create start-ups from scratch, and help them to grow roots in this state.”

Read the full UConn Today story.

New Degree Program Will Bring Skilled Workforce to Connecticut’s Energy Sector

UConn Campus
Aerial view of UConn campus.

Energy employment continues to grow in Connecticut. But hiring managers say they are struggling to find a workforce skilled in advanced renewable energy technologies, and the state’s flagship university is responding. A news story from Energy News Network brings attention to the issue.

“Connecticut has been behind in supporting our needs,” said Sridhar Kanuri, vice president of research and engineering at Doosan Fuel Cell America, based in a suburb of Hartford. Doosan is wooing graduates from the University of Massachusetts — which offers an energy engineering program with option tracks in renewable energy — and engineering schools from the West Coast, whose students bring skills in managing new technologies in the green space.

The University of Connecticut this fall will expand its newly-launched program to train working professionals in implementing clean technologies across industry verticals. Earlier this year, UConn kicked off its new, two-year Master of Science in Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Systems degree with a $1.25 million federal grant from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Although we target the energy industry, the skills that we intend to develop will be useful in any industry, especially in product development and manufacturing,” said Dr. Ugur Pasaogullari, a professor at UConn’s Department of Mechanical Engineering [and IMS member] who is heading the program.

Read the full Energy News Network story.

IMS Welcomes Dr. J. Nathan Hohman

Dr J. Nathan Hohman
Dr. J. Nathan Hohman

Dr. J. Nathan Hohman (Nate) has joined the Institute of Materials Science as a resident faculty member from the Chemistry Department. Dr. Hohman, began his graduate work at Penn State University and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles advised by Dr. Paul Weiss. He completed his postdoctoral research with Dr. Nicholas Melosh at Stanford University. Most recently, Dr. Hohman was employed at the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Hohman’s research interests include surface science, nanomaterials, chemical patterning, and many other areas.

IMS Director Dr. Steven Suib, expressed his thanks to the hiring committee which included Drs. Rainer Hebert (Chair), Andrei Alexandrescu. Baki Cetegen, Martin Han, Jie He, Linnaea Ostroff, and Luyi Sun. He also expressed gratitude for the support of Provost John Elliott, Vice President for Research Radenka Maric, Dean Davita Glasberg of CLAS, and Chemistry Department Head Christian Bruckner.

New Technology Designed to Reduce Mortality Rates in Cancer Patients

Ph.D. students Leila Daneshmandi (l) and Armin Tahmasbi Rad (r)
Ph.D. students Leila Daneshmandi (l) and Armin Tahmasbi Rad (r)

Armin Tahmasbi Rad, Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Mu-Ping Nieh’s group, along with Leila Daneshmandi, Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Engineering have developed a system to grow and test tumor cells outside the body with a goal of more efficient patient treatment.

UConn Today reports that the technology could potentially greatly reduce the trial-and-error aspect of cancer treatment that is exhausting, expensive, and potentially fatal for the patient.

The researchers are aided by support from Accelerate UConn, the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps site at UConn.

Read the full story at UConn Today.

Collaboration Leads to Publication for IMS Faculty Member and Industry Partner

UConn research was the cover story in a recent edition of the journal CrystEngComm.
UConn research was the cover story in a recent edition of the journal CrystEngComm.

A research collaboration between a team of researchers led by IMS resident faculty member, Dr. Serge Nakhmanson, and industry partner Pfizer Inc. has lead to a cover story in the February 28 edition of CrystEngComm.

The collaboration, which includes members of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, seeks to determine the usefulness of machine learning in determining optimum methods of crystallizing pharmaceutical compounds from liquid to pill form.

UConn Today reports that three separate algorithms were tested using data and expertise from Pfizer.

Read the full story at UConn Today

Undergraduate from Menka Jain’s Group Receives NSF Honorable Mention

Undergraduate Mark E. Johnson

Mark E. Johnson, an undergraduate student in Dr. Menka Jain’s group, has received Honorable Mention in the 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

The GRFP recognizes and supports individuals early in their graduate training in STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) fields.

Mark’s proposal for the GRFP was based on research he has conducted over the last three semesters in Dr. Jain’s lab.

Mark will graduate in May with a dual major in physics and chemistry. While he has received offers from many graduate programs, Mark will begin his graduate studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

IMS Researchers Published in Nano Letters and Featured by Los Alamos National Lab

Artist’s rendition depicts the naturally abundant material with isotopes shown in a variety of colors and the isotopically pure material with uniform coloring.
Artist’s rendition depicts the naturally abundant material with isotopes shown in a variety of colors and the isotopically pure material with uniform coloring.

Research on isotopic purification of 2D materials, conducted by several IMS members, has been published in the journal Nano Letters. Their discovery is also highlighted by the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Ph.D. student Wei Wu, x-ray lab manager, Mayra Daniela Morales-Acosta, and former IMS faculty member, Dr. Michael Pettes are among the researchers.

Wei Wu, Mayra Daniela Morales-Acosta, Yongqiang Wang, and Michael T. Pettes, “Isotope effect in bilayer WSe2,” Nano Letters 19(3), 1527–1533 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b04269