Hom Sharma, a Ph.D. candidate from the CMBE department, has received a highly competitive and prestigious Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This federal government award is limited to the country’s most outstanding graduate students in environmental science-related fields. The fellowship provides $126,000 over a three-year period to cover full tuition, a stipend, and research expenses. The fellowship has been awarded to the proposal titled “Computational and experimental investigation of catalyst deactivation to design sulfur resistant emissions oxidation catalysts” submitted to EPA. Hom is the first graduate student to receive the EPA STAR fellowship from UConn School of Engineering.
As part of this fellowship, Hom will be working on research that deals with engine emissions and catalyst deactivation due to sulfur—a complex phenomenon which involves interactions of sulfur with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) containing supported metals. This research will provide information of reaction kinetics for the underlying sulfation chemistry of DOC. It will help to overcome challenges inherent in the development of catalyst screening tools and aid in the identification of improved sulfur resistant DOC materials. Furthermore, engines and aftertreatment system manufacturers (who are required to meet increasingly stringent standards) will benefit from these research findings. Hom is currently part of Associate Professor Rampi Ramprasad’s research group, with his past two years of research being guided by Dr. Ashish Mhadeshwar (now with Exxon Mobil Corporation).
In 2011, Hom received a Department of Education GAANN fellowship to conduct his research. This summer, he also worked in a NSF REU Program at UConn to provide research guidance to a University of Michigan undergraduate student focusing on non-catalytic oxidation of diesel soot with O2 and NO2.