News

Willis is Harvesting Parts of Sunshine to Expand the Use of Sunlight

Using nanoscale antennas, Professor Brian Willis is harvesting parts of sunshine not currently being used, expanding the use of sunlight for energy and making clean – and climate friendly – energy more affordable.

At the heart of Prof. Willis’ research lies the utilization of nanoscale antennas, tiny structures capable of capturing and manipulating light at the smallest scales imaginable. These antennas act as miniature powerhouses, harvesting parts of sunlight that have traditionally gone unused. This unprecedented approach not only expands the efficiency of solar energy collection but also significantly enhances the affordability of clean energy solutions.

Check out this cool video highlighting his research and read more on UConn Today.

Bollas Selected for the Prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award

Warmest congratulations to Prof. George Bollas who has been selected for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award for 2024-2025. The Fulbright Program is devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Association is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. The presidentially appointed 12-member Board of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program is responsible for supervising the Fulbright Program worldwide and approving the selection of all Fulbright recipients.

In this Program, Prof. Bollas will investigate the end-to-end feasibility of ammonia as a fuel for the difficult-to-decarbonize transportation sectors, from the production energy and carbon footprint to its conversion and utilization. A key focus of his work will be to promote a novel method, invented recently with his Ph.D. student Laron Burrows, that leverages chemical loops of metal nitrides, hydrides, and imides for ammonia synthesis at atmospheric pressure in separate steps. A second focus area of Prof. Bollas’ work will be on ammonia cracking and power generation in fuel cells.

This scholarship will support a research partnership with the Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute (CPERI) of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH).

Wei Ruan Wins 3rd Place in the 10th Annual Graduate Poster Competition

Wei Ruan

Warmest congratulations to Wei Ruan who won the 1st place Award in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the 3rd place award at the College of Engineering with her work on “High Throughput Fabrication of Thin Electrocaloric Materials Films Enabled by Additive Manufacturing” at the 10th Annual College of Engineering Poster Competition.

 

Read more on the Graduate Programs.

Alanna Gado Awarded the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Graduate Student Fellowship

Warmest congratulations to Alanna Gado for being awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship sponsored by the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium. Her work focuses on developing advanced catalyst-coated membranes for achieving high efficiency and high durability proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers under the advising of Professor Radenka Maric and in collaboration with Research Scientist Leonard Bonville and Associate Research Professor Stoyan Bliznakov. This research holds immense promise for the field of hydrogen production and clean energy technology, paving the way for sustainable solutions to our energy challenges. Read more on NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium.

Research Team Develops Hybrid Propulsion Commercial Electric Aircraft

Xiao-Dong ZhouThe groundbreaking research led by Professor Xiao-Dong Zhou has the potential to transform aviation, making it more sustainable and contributing to net-zero emissions. Funded by the prestigious ARPA-E program, his interdisciplinary research team is looking to develop a carbon-neutral energy storage and power generation system as an alternative for aircraft propulsion using High-Performance Metal-Supported Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs).

Dive into the details and learn more about this transformative project on UConn Today

Laurencin Delivers Keynote Speech at University of Virginia Diversity Conference

Cato LaurencinProfessor Cato Laurencin recently delivered the keynote speech at the 2023 How When & Why of DEI Conference organized by the University of Virginia School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Dr. Laurencin’s keynote address challenged the audience to consider adopting his concept called the IDEAL Path (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Learning), a concept he first presented when he was awarded the Herbert W. Nickens Award by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Read more on UConn Today.

Laurencin Named the Inventor of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation

Dr. Cato LaurencinIn a groundbreaking achievement, Dr. Cato Laurencin has been named the Inventor of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation, an accolade that recognizes the world’s most outstanding recent inventors and their profound impact on the nation’s economy and quality of life. Dr. Laurencin’s pioneering work in the field of Regenerative Engineering has resulted in revolutionary technology that promotes bone and tissue regeneration, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for patients. This prestigious recognition underscores the transformative impact of his contributions in the realm of healthcare and regenerative medicine. His innovative work continues to be a beacon of hope for patients worldwide, marking a significant milestone in the field and solidifying his position as a trailblazer in healthcare innovation.

Watch the Youtube Video on Dr. Laurencin’s Award.

Four Faculty Members are Highlighted in the 2023 UConn Research Annual Report

In the latest 2023 UConn Research Annual Report, the exceptional contributions of four distinguished faculty members take center stage. President Radenka Maric, along with esteemed professors Kelly Burke, Xiao-Dong Zhou, and Cato Laurencin, have been featured for their groundbreaking work spanning the realms of sustainability, energy, health, medicine, and community development. The report underscores the significant impact of their research, showcasing their commitment to advancing knowledge and addressing critical issues that resonate across diverse fields.

Read more on UConn Research Annual Report

Microalgae for Poultry Nutrition: UConn Researchers Receive NSF Future Manufacturing Grant

The interdisciplinary research team will develop a novel biomanufacturing technology to use microalgae to produce an essential amino acid for poultry feed. From left to right: Rigoberto Lopez, Yongku Cho, Yangchao Luo, Yu Lei, Mingyu Qiao, and Burcu Beykal. (Nick Snow, CAHNR photo)

Congratulations to Professors Burcu BeykalYongku Cho, and Yu Lei on winning the $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Future Manufacturing initiative!

This interdisciplinary team with Professors Mingyu Qiao (PI), Yangchao Luo, and Rigoberto Lopez from UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, and Professor C. Patrick Heidkamp from Southern Connecticut State University will tackle carbon-neutral amino acid synthesis with microalgae.

They will also develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model to determine, essentially, when the algae should act like a plant and when it should act like a microorganism based on the availability of sunlight or other essential nutrients to minimize costs. The AI model will automatically calculate how much of a given resource, like sugar, is needed to optimize amino acid production.

The grant will also include workshops for underrepresented high school and community college students to help prepare them to enter the biomanufacturing workforce in collaboration with Southern Connecticut State University.

Read more on UConn Today.

After Semester-Long Development, Student-Created ‘BrewConn’ Beer Debuts with Glowing Reviews

Our two senior design teams advised by Professor Jenn Pascal brewed with Kinsmen Brewing Co. for an exclusive launch event for UConn Brewing Innovation. It was a brew-tastic event last Tuesday with 300+ alumni, faculty, and students attending.

For the past three years, Professor Pascal has been offering a brewing course to allow senior chemical engineering students to apply their knowledge. They gained hands-on experience in brewing beer using homebrew scale equipment and kits. This year, the capstone course expanded, by offering trips to Smokedown Hops Farm in Sharon, Thrall Family Malt in Windsor, and two visits to the Kinsmen Brewing to learn about processing and canning. This has been a great experience both for those planning careers in craft brewing and for those seeking other endeavors, because of the real-world skills they’ve learned. As Professor Pascal has also highlighted: “Many chemical engineers work in the food and beverage industry. Chemical engineers are ‘process’ engineers and brewing beer involves optimizing processes and ways to improve them, all relevant skills in an assortment of industries.’’

Learn more about how Professor Pascal’s course and capstone project are transforming chemical and biomolecular engineering studies with hands-on brewing experience for our seniors on UConn Today.