UConn Alum Seth March (’22) has joined the CAMMA Lab as a postdoc. Seth, earned his Ph.D. this year in Inorganic Chemistry under the advisement of IMS Director Steven L. Suib. Seth served as a research assistant and a teaching assistant and has extensive experience in materials characterization and data analysis.
Anson Ma from Polymer Program at IMS, with joint appointment in the Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering, has been named the United Technologies Corporation (UTC) Professor in Engineering Innovation, effective 23 August 2022. This professorship has been established to recognize the exceptional achievements of young faculty who exemplify excellence in the areas of research productivity and impact, teaching contributions, and service contributions and are at the very top of their area of research.
Ma’s research group focuses on rheology and 3D printing. He currently serves as the UConn Site Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) SHAP3D Center for Additive Manufacturing. He has received a number of awards, including Distinguished Young Rheologist Award from TA Instruments, NSF CAREER award, Arthur B. Metzner Early Career award from the Society of Rheology, 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, Early Career Award from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)-UConn Chapter, UConn Polymer Program Director’s Award for Faculty Excellence, and U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship.
As research conducted by UConn IMS faculty members creates more funding opportunities, the need to expand administrative services to support the increased funding has led IMS to hire two new administrative team members. Both Lisa Conant and Christina Tamburro come to UConn IMS from within the University.
Lisa Conant previously served as Pre-Award Grants and Contracts Specialist for the Sponsored Program Services (SPS) section of the Office of the Vice President of Research (OVPR). Lisa honed her financial skills in the non-profit social services and municipal sectors. She also provided her financial expertise to The Jackson Laboratory. An avid writer and editor in her personal time, Lisa also loves trying new international recipes. She served her community in Coventry, CT, as an elected town council member for four years and currently serves on the town’s Human Rights Commission. Lisa hopes her years of grants and research administration experience and skills will help support and grow IMS’ already incredibly impressive success in winning research grants and contracts. “My goal is to serve as a resource for IMS faculty and staff in all things pre-award,” Lisa says.
Christina Tamburro comes to us from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) where she served briefly as Business Operations Specialist before returning to her passion for finance here in IMS. Prior to her time in CAHNR, Christina served as a Post-Award Grants and Contracts Specialist for SPS. Christina loves cooking and baking. She won second prize in the Connecticut State Agricultural Fairs statewide apple pie contest in 2005. Additionally, Christina describes herself as a “history nut” with particular interest in the American Civil War and colonial New England. She hopes to contribute additional expertise, enthusiasm and understanding to the grant management process here at IMS. “I am looking forward to working closely with grant holders, sponsors, and connections throughout the university to extend IMS’ outstanding reputation,” Christina says.
Please join all of us at IMS in welcoming Lisa and Christina.
Established in 2010, the DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program supports the individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science: Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR), Biological and Environmental Research (BER), Basic Energy Sciences (BES), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES), High Energy Physics (HEP), Isotope R&D and Production (IP), and Nuclear Physics (NP).
Among the 83 university and DOE national lab researchers announced as recipients of the award for 2022, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Yuanyuan Zhu is the only Connecticut researcher to receive the honor. IMS News asked Dr. Zhu about her research and the award.
In 2019, you were appointed Director of the UConn DENSsolutions InToEM Center for in-situ TEM research at IPB Tech Park. You have since had papers published related to the research the Center is conducting. As we are seeing more and more evidence of the effects of climate change, how do you hope your research at the InToEM Center will assist in solving some of the problems we are now dealing with?
Yes, we have published a couple of papers since 2019 using the in-situ environmental TEM gas cell. Here you can find our full publications: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=HlDqamcAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate .
It’s a coincidence that the DENSsolutions’ ETEM gas cell system is named as “Climate”, because it involves gas environment for chemical reactions in a microscope. Another example is their liquid cell system, which is called “Stream” simply because the reaction stimuli involved.
There are many materials researches related to energy and environment, including climate change, that can benefit from the in-situ ETEM research. One immediate example is heterogeneous catalysis used for natural gas conversion and H2 production. And the fusion energy materials research funded by the DOE ECA is another good example.
Congratulations on receiving the Department of Energy’s Early Career Award for 2022. What are your hopes for your research on Understanding Thermal Oxidation of Tungsten and the Impact to Radiation Under Fusion Extremes?
Fusion energy holds great promise for replacing fossil fuels for 24/7 baseload electrical power. We are excited that the DOE Early Career Award will fund our in-situ ETEM study to directly address a well-known fusion safety hazard concerning aggressive high-temperature oxidation of plasma-facing material tungsten. We hope to gain fundamental understanding of tungsten degradation in case of air-ingress scenarios that could inform the best strategy for responding to accidents, and could guide the design of advanced W-based materials that better preserve divertor integrity for even more demanding DEMO fusion extremes. Simply put it, we want to make the operation of fusion energy systems safer and more reliable.
You have several Ph.D. candidates under your advisement. How do you hope to influence these young scientists?
Our research group provides a welcoming, supportive and inclusive working environment to drive personal success for each Ph.D. researcher. Through the first-hand work on such research projects closely to clean energy and sustainability, I believe our Ph.D. students will gain confidence and skills in research and also develop a solid sense of social responsibility.
We are seeing many more women represented in STEM. What advice would you give to young women who may be considering a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics?
We need everyone in STEM, and anything is possible if one follows his/her/their passion. Research is fun but progress is built on failure and resilience.
In a recent letter to the UConn community, UConn Interim President Radenka Maric announced the appointment of S. Pamir Alpay as interim Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Pamir, a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, currently serves as Executive Director of the UConn Innovation Partnership Building (IPB).
“He is well known throughout UConn for his tireless work in supporting faculty research, fostering industry partnerships, and setting an example of innovation with his own work in smart/functional materials and multi-scale materials modeling,” Maric noted in announcing the appointment. “He will serve in the interim VPRIE role in my place as I serve as interim president, and we will work in tandem with others throughout UConn and UConn Health in the shared mission of securing our place as one of the nation’s top research universities.”
In an institution that is fortunate to have so many talented faculty researchers, Pamir is particularly impressive and well suited to take on this important leadership role.
Dr. Ying Li is using computers and artificial intelligence to improve delivery of nanomedicines to tumors. “A lot of medicines involve intravenous injections of drug carriers,” said Ying Li, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. “We want them to be able to circulate and find the right place at the right time and to release the right amount of drugs to safely protect us. If you make mistakes, there can be terrible size-effects.”
Dr. Li’s research is featured in an story from the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas Austin. Read the complete article from Texas Advanced Computing Center.
Dr. Stephen Ekatan completed his final dissertation, Material Properties of Complex Synthetic Macromolecules Containing Secondary Structures, in January 2021 under the advisement of Professor of Chemistry Dr. Yao Lin.
As a researcher who values the application of science, and desires to make positive contributions during his career, Dr. Ekatan has accepted a position with Nel Hydrogen, a global, dedicated hydrogen company, delivering optimal solutions to produce, store and distribute hydrogen from renewable energy. In his new role as process engineer at Nel Hydrogen, Stephen will focus on the development of coating technologies for membrane electrode assemblies used in water electrolysis to generate hydrogen.
Reflecting on his time in the IMS Polymer Program, Steve says that one of the most important skills he has developed is the ability to look at the “big picture” and examine how various areas of research intertwine, leading to new achievements in science and industry.
Dr. Jeffrey R. McCutcheon, Professor and Executive Director, Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation; Al Geib Professor of Environmental Engineering Research and Education, UConn School of Engineering has been announced as an inductee in the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) for 2021.
Dr. McCutcheon joined UConn in 2008, after receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2007. He was selected to receive the Dupont Young Professor award in 2013, one of only 14 professors worldwide to receive the honor. In 2019, as an internationally recognized expert in membrane technologies for sustainable water and energy production, Dr. McCutcheon was chosen to lead UConn’s participation in the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a research consortium awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues in the United States.
In 2020, McCutcheon lead a team developing a prototype of an emergency ventilator that could be produced by Connecticut manufacturers to help ease anticipated shortage of the devices as the novel coronavirus continued to spread across the state.
Election to the Academy is based on the applicant’s scientific and engineering distinctions, achieved through significant contributions in the form of publications, patents, outstanding leadership, and other factors.
New inductees are scheduled to be honored at the Academy’s 46th Annual Meeting that will be held virtually on May 27, 2021
While completing her Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering & Technology at the Beijing Institute of Technology, Yanliu Dang discovered her research area of interest, materials and catalysis. When searching for doctoral programs, she decided to come to the US in order to learn about American culture and explore research opportunities not available in China. She singled out UConn to study under the guides of one of the world’s leaders in catalysis, Prof. Steven Suib.
Her studies in catalysis at UConn led to her dissertation defense, “Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Metal Oxide/Phosphide-Based Catalysts for Energy Applications”
In addition to catalysis, Yanliu stated that she gained significant knowledge in microscopy and material characterization. She was very grateful to have the opportunity to work on advanced instruments at UConn: Titan Themis TEM, Dual Beam FIB, and XPS to study materials and catalytic mechanisms.
Yanliu’s paper, Constructing Bifunctional 3D Holey and Ultrathin CoP Nanosheets for Efficient Overall Water Splitting, was published in July 25, 2019. Her paper, Partial Reduction of Ruthenium Oxide as Efficient and pH-Universal Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution, is currently under review. Her third paper, Self-standing Ruthenium Oxide Nanocomposite for Regenerable Electrocatalyst in Seawater Splitting, is around the corner.