Three IMS Faculty Members Receive NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Alix Deymier, Dr. Jasna Jankovic, Dr. Ying Li
l-r Dr. Alix Deymier, Dr. Jasna Jankovic, Dr. Ying Li

Three IMS faculty members were among eight recently announced recipients of the NSF CAREER Award.

Dr. Alix Deymier (Biomedical Engineering) will work to elucidate the relationship between skeletal composition, structure, and physiological pH in terms of how it releases ions to regulate the body’s pH.

Dr. Ying Li (Mechanical Engineering) will develop a machine learning model to better understand the properties of a promising sustainable material.

Dr. Jasna Jankovic (Materials Science and Engineering) is working to increase the durability of electrodes in zero-emission energy systems. These systems include fuel cells, electrolyzers, batteries, and supercapacitors.  Read the full UConn Today story

American Institute of Chemical Engineers Honors Dr. Cato T. Laurencin

Dr. Cato Laurencin
Dr. Cato Laurencin

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has chosen Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, to receive the 2021 Hoover Medal.

The prize celebrates the civic and humanitarian achievements of an engineer whose professional and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind, and recognizes Laurencin as an extraordinary engineer who outside his role as an engineer and physician has dedicated his life to the promotion of racial and ethnic social justice and equity. He has been a mentor to generations of individuals who continue to pass on his lessons.

Laurencin, a fellow and director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, will receive the Hoover Medal honor and deliver a related lecture during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, to be held Nov. 7–11 in Boston, and online Nov. 15–19.

Read the full UConn Today story

Dr. Luyi Sun Named a 2020 Presidential M1 Mentor by CCI

Dr. Luyi Sun
Dr. Luyi Sun

The Presidential M1 Mentorship Award Program was established to create a national model for best practices in mentorship and formalize mentorship as an academic discipline. The award seeks to establish a cadre of accomplished UConn faculty who will deliver mentorship to racially and ethnically underrepresented individuals along the biomedical science pipeline.

Dr. Luyi Sun, Director of the IMS Polymer Program, and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering was named a 2020 recipient of the M1 Mentorship Award.

Dr. Sun joined the UConn faculty as an associate professor in 2013 and by 2018 had been promoted to full professor. His research focuses on the design and synthesis of nanostructured materials for various applications. He has served as major advisor to numerous Ph.D. graduates. His group currently includes graduate students, visiting scholars, and a postdoctoral researcher.

Funding for the Presidential M1 Mentorship Award Program covers up to 25% of protected time for mentoring activities, including mentorship of individual students as well as participation in the development and execution of various mentorship initiatives. In addition, up to $5,000 will be allocated to the development of new and innovative initiatives focused on student-related activities that promote their academic growth and increase the number of students in the pipeline.

Dr. S. Pamir Alpay Named UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

Dr. S. Pamir Alpay
Dr. S. Pamir Alpay

Dr. S. Pamir Alpay, IMS faculty member and Associate Dean for Research and Industrial Partnerships, has been named a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor.

The award recognizes faculty who have achieved exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service while at the University of Connecticut and has been awarded annually since 1998.

In addition to being associate dean, Alpay is the General Electric Professor in Advanced Manufacturing in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Executive Director of UConn Tech Park, where he serves as UConn’s chief ambassador to industry and government agencies in building industry-responsive and economically important initiatives based on UConn’s strengths in applied research. In this role, he has excelled in outreach, having hosted workshops and symposia connecting over 500 professionals and government leaders on current topics ranging from sustainability, cybersecurity, energy, advanced manufacturing and support for small/medium size businesses. Read the full School of Engineering Story.

Dr. Challa V. Kumar Presents Research in Australia

Dr. Challa V. Kumar with Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan
Dr. Challa V. Kumar with Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan

Dr. Challa V. Kumar presented an invited Institute Lecture at the Australian Institute of Innovative Materials, University of Wollongong, Australia.

Dr. Kumar was selected for a Fulbright US-Australia Research Excellence Award in 2019 and has been conducting and presenting his research focused on 3D printing of enzymes to make progress toward the realization of Biobatteries. These batteries are intended to use sugar to power personal electronics.

MSE Students Recognized at EMA 2020

Ayana Ghosh and Lucas Enright
Ayana Ghosh (right) and Lucas Enright (left) with Lucas’ speaking award (made out of Corning glass, as Corning Inc. is the award sponsor) against the background of Ayana’s poster.

Two MSE students, Ayana Ghosh and Lucas Enright, won awards at the 11th annual Electronic Materials and Applications (EMA) Conference. The conference was organized by Electronics and Basic Science Divisions of the American Ceramic Society and was held in Orlando, FL at the end of January 2020. Ghosh, a graduate student, was awarded Best Poster for her research on organic ferroelectrics, and Enright, a senior, was recognized as the Best Student Speaker for his talk in the session devoted to 5G telecommunications.

Both Ghosh and Enright attended the conference as part of a larger group of UConn MSE students, and were accompanied by MSE faculty including Associate Professor Serge M. Nakhmanson (Ghosh’s Ph.D. advisor) and MSE Department Head Bryan Huey.

Ghosh’s winning poster was dedicated to designing novel organic ferroelectrics. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms governing the emergence of ferroelectricity in these materials. She uses machine learning and data-driven approaches both to search for potential novel organic ferroelectrics and to establish design principles for achieving new functionalities. IMS congratulates Ayana and Lucas!

Ph.D. Student Erin Curry Wins Physics Department Teaching Award

Erin Curry accepts award from Dr. Barrett Wells
Ph.D. student, Erin Curry, accepts award from Physics Department Head, Dr. Barrett O. Wells

IMS/Physics PhD student, Erin Curry, is a recipient of the Marshall Walker Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in the Department of Physics. Erin was cited for her excellent service as a teaching assistant during the development of active learning “studio” style physics instruction. This innovative curricular overhaul combines research-supported practice of combining laboratory, lecture, and discussion in a new setting, presenting a strong break from the traditional, lecture hall plus lab approach of decades past.

Erin, who is advised by IMS faculty member Dr. Jason Hancock, was cited for her contributions in creating and developing original “tutorial” exercises in Spring 2019 Phys 1601: Fundamentals of physics for physics majors and again as an instructor of record in Fall 2019 Phys 1501: Physics for Engineers. Tutorials are problem sets deliberately constructed to serve specific learning goals and a popular and effective new element of the studio physics in addition to the traditional lecture and laboratory components. Congratulations, Erin!

Dr. Yang Cao Elected to Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering

Dr. Yang Cao
Dr. Yang Cao

Dr. Yang Cao, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and resident IMS faculty member has been elected to membership in the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE).

CASE, a private, nonprofit, public-service institution patterned after the National Academy of Sciences, identifies and studies issues and technological advances that are or should be of concern to the people of Connecticut, and provides unbiased, expert advice on science- and technology-related issues to state government and other Connecticut institutions.

Dr. Cao has bachelors and masters degrees in physics from Tongji University, China and completed his Ph.D. in the Materials Science Program of IMS in 2002. Upon graduation, Yang joined GE Research in Schenectady, NY working in the field of dielectric materials as related to medical systems, power apparatus, etc. He returned to IMS in 2013 as Director of the Electrical Insulation Resource Center (EIRC).

Dr. Cao’s research has been focused on high voltage engineering and energy materials for power and medical devices. His main research interests include: (1) High electric field phenomena and devices; (2) Polymeric nanostructured materials with game changing characteristics for energy efficient power conversion and renewables integrations; (3) High voltage engineering in power and medical; (4) Grid asset management: diagnosis and prognosis of electrical degradation.

Dr. Cao and other new CASE members elected in 2020 will be inducted into the Academy at its Annual Meeting and Dinner on May 26, 2020.

Drs. Paul Nahass and Rajeswari Kasi are Recipients of SPARK Award

Dr. Paul Nahass (l) and Dr. Rajeswari Kasi
Dr. Paul Nahass (l) and Dr. Rajeswari Kasi

Dr. Paul Nahass and Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Kasi are co-PI’s on a research project which has been selected for a 2019-20 SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund award of $50,000.

The research, Medical Devices for Real-time Radiation Dosimetry at Sub-millimeter Spatial Resolution, seeks to marry a radiation-sensitive chemical, diacetylene, with a piezoelectric material, to make a 2D array of radiation sensors with sub-millimeter spatial resolution. The concept is a flexible, film-like single-use sensor and standalone reader device, that has the potential to be used at more than 9000 radiotherapy hospitals and clinics worldwide.

“As medical Radiotherapy is moving towards the use of smaller radiation fields and increasing radiation dose per treatment fraction, currently available radiation dosimetry equipment is either not suitable or properly adapted or convenient to map radiation dose at sub-millimeter resolution,” Dr. Nahass explains.

The SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund aims to support innovative proof-of-concept studies seeking to translate research discoveries into products, processes, and other commercial applications. The funding is offered through the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Dr. Nahass is Director of the IMS Industrial Affiliates Program, the industry outreach arm of IMS. Dr. Kasi is a Professor of Chemistry and former Director of the IMS Polymer Program. The two are working with RCF Consulting, a company with decades of extensive experience in radiochromic film, dosimetry, and the medical industry. They previously partnered with RCF Consulting on an NSF SBIR Phase 1 project.

IMS Members Jie He and Jing Zhao Receive NSF EAGER

Dr. Jie He and Dr. Jing Zhao
(l-r) Dr. Jie He and Dr. Jing Zhao

Dr. Jie (Jay) He and Dr. Jing Zhao, both faculty members of the Chemistry Department with appointments in IMS, were recently awarded the NSF EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER). The grant supports exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.

Dr. He was awarded $149,991 for his collaborative research entitled Hybrid Quantum Dot-Metal Nanocrystals for Photoreduction of CO2: Synthesis, Spectroscopy and Catalysis. The grant is effective 8/15/2019 to 7/31/2021.

Dr. Zhao was awarded $204,082 for her collaborative research entitled A Low-Cost, “Digital” Biosensing Platform with Single Protein Biomarker Sensitivity. The grant is effective 9/1/2019 to 8/31/2022