Cohort 1 (Entering 2010-2011 AY)


Oluwakayode Bamiduro, Ph.D. '13
IGERT Trainee, 2010-2013
B.S., Mechanical Engineering
M.S., Materials Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Thin Film Fabrication and Characterization Research Lab
Advisor: Dr. Aswini Pradhan
Norfolk State University
Current Position: Adjunct Professor and Research Associate




My research group, under the direction of Dr. Aswini Pradhan, focuses on an array oftopics which stem from nanostructured materials concepts, with emphasis on synthesis, processing and characterization of materials as well as their applications in the emerging fields of new optoelectronics and multifunctional devices. More specifically, my research anchors in the area of the development of nanostructured materials for high-performance thin film solar cells. One example of such a material is Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (Cu In1-xGax Se2). Otherwise known as CIGS, this material serves as a semiconductor used in thin film based solar cells, with a reported efficiency of 20.1%. The initial concept of thin film based solar cells resulted from the desire to design and produce a high quality cell using relatively small amounts of material via low cost deposition techniques. The bottleneck researchers encountered fall in two categories: (i) lack of understanding as to the involved growth mechanism and (ii) determining  the most efficient techniques and strategies for large scale production. My research tasks as an IGERT Trainee involve (i) devising a recipe (considering voltage, composition and pH) to fabricate high quality CIGS using electrodeposition techniques while controlling  morphology, as well as  stoichiometry, (ii) investigating defects, including the nature of the recombination centers at the interfacial level of CdS (Cadmium Sulfide, a buffer layer)/ CIGS and the influence on charge transport mechanisms, and (iii) optimizing the thickness of the back contact (Molybdenum) for charge collection.



Lei Gu, Ph.D. '14
IGERT Trainee, 2011-2012; Associate Trainee, 2012-2013
M.Eng., Engineering/Industrial Management
M.S., Computer Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Optical Materials and Laser Spectroscopy Lab
Advisor:  Dr. Mikhail Noginov
Norfolk State University
Current Position: Georgia Perimeter College, Assistant Professor




My research interests include experimental and computational aspects of plasmonics and metamaterials, with a strong focus on non-metallic plasmonic materials.  The conventional metals of choice in nanoplasmonics, silver and gold, function as good candidates in the optical wavelength range, but are not efficient at near-infrared wavelengths. This characteristic serves as motivation to investigate plasmonic materials which perform efficiently in the infrared range.  Heavily doped degenerate semiconductors have been studied for this purpose because these conductive materials are optically transparent in the visible range and support surface plasmons at the telecom and longer wavelengths. Our research group studies organic dyes as possible candidates for plasmonic materials. Initial studies indicate that these materials behave like metals at certain frequencies, with negative dielectric permittivities similar to metals.  Moreover, the imaginary parts of the permittivities are very small compared to metals, which reflects the low-loss nature of such materials.  Interestingly, surface plasmon polaritons were observed with such dyes, thereby confirming their metallic behavior. Simulations were performed to accompany these experimental results.  I am currently working towards achieving metal-like behavior and gain from such organic dyes, which could potentially revolutionize the field of low-loss nanoplasmonics. The IGERT program helps me broaden my academic skills to include important aspects of education, such as, ethics, intellectual property, pedagogy and technical writing skills, which often  lack inclusion in a traditional system of graduate education.




Amanda Harding
IGERT Trainee, 2010-2012; Associate Trainee, 2012-2014
B.S., Chemistry
M.S., Materials Science
Organic and Polymeric Materials Research Lab
Advisor: Dr. Sam-Shajing Sun
Norfolk State University

 

Our research group focuses on synthesizing new polymers for use in solar cell devices. The materials we fabricate and examine function either as electron donors or electron acceptors, with their electron characteristics determined by the chemical properties of the created material.  Each solar cell we design consists of one electron donor material and one electron acceptor material. The donor/acceptor pairing functions to help generate current from absorbed solar energy. Currently, organic solar cells lack viability for widespread industrial production because their efficiency is very low.  As a result, investigation into the incorporation of other materials for these devices is needed.  My research project involves the implementation of a dye molecule covalently attached to a donor polymer and used in conjunction with an electron acceptor. This combination is expected to increase photoelectron conversion efficiency by reducing photon, exciton, and carrier losses. In addition to training me in academically unconventional areas, such as proposal writing, intellectual property, and ethics, the IGERT fellowship provides a platform for me to network with colleagues both within and outside my field for conducting research, education, and career development endeavors. We practice developing and proposing new, innovative research ideas, which augments our laboratory experience and generates well-rounded, relevant scholars of materials science and engineering.  Because our IGERT group consists of Trainees and PIs from three different universities, we experience diversity in ways of thinking and doing typically only gained through study pursuits in new environments.




Mohammad Mayy, Ph.D. '13
IGERT Trainee, 2010-2013
B.S., Chemistry
M.S., Materials Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Optical Materials and Laser Spectroscopy Lab
Advisor:  Dr. Mikhail Noginov
Norfolk State University
Current Position: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Examiner

I conducted my research under Dr. Mikhail Noginov in the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University. Our research involved thoroughly grasping a basic understanding of the optical characteristics of metamaterials, then investigating these materials further to determine their potential as aids in development and improvement of devices useful in daily life. Kretschmann configuration and Otto configuration are well-known among physicists as methods used to excite Surface Plasmon Polaritons (SPPs). The Kretschmann configuration requires three media: a prism, a metal, and a dielectric. Each medium displays particular optical and physical characteristics enabling the three together to excite SPPs. The metal must show a negative epsilon, and the dielectric must show a positive epsilon as well as a lower refractive index than glass. The resultant improvement in amplification of the second harmonic generation using SPPs provides benefits in several scientific fields, including the real-time increase in sensitivity and accuracy of biosensors, and the beginning of a new generation of testing methods for the “superlens” as well as other sensors. Part of my responsibility as an IGERT Trainee involved designing of the third-year independent research module. The framework for this module includes Trainees developing their own research ideas based on a given topic. For Year 3, the topic focused on magnetic nanostructures for biomedical applications. The Trainees presented their ideas via PowerPoint, with IGERT Team peer review for constructive critique and evaluation in a safe, contained environment. Other tasks I completed included planning of the IGERT External Advisory Committee Retreat in 2012. This involved coordinating activities with the IGERT Faculty and Trainees, organizing and revising the meeting agenda and arranging travel for out-of-state guests. While in IGERT, I also worked with other Trainees to develop an educational nanotechnology workshop for high school teachers with a focus on carbon nanotubes. This workshop was presented in the NEW MatEd Conference in 2011, with the results of this workshop  presented at the 2012 ASEE Conference.

 

Thomas R. Swisher
IGERT Trainee, 2010- 2011
B.S., Physics; B.A., Applied Mathematics
Wiesner Research Group
Advisor: Dr. Ulrich Wiesner
Cornell University
Current position: Web Developer and Data Visualization Designer

 

 

I am Thomas Swisher, a PhD student in the Materials Science and Engineering department of Cornell University. I am a member of Dr. Ulrich Wiesner's group, an interdisciplinary team of chemists, materials scientists, and other scholars pursuing research focused in two major areas. We use block-copolymer self-assembly to form nanoscale organic structures, as well as to structure-direct inorganic and metallic materials on the nanoscale. We also synthesize hybrid inorganic-dye nanoparticles, with applications that include cutting-edge medical imaging. My background is in Physics and Applied Mathematics, and my research focuses on developing functional materials and synthesis methods for devices that utilize the Wiesner group's expertise in polymer science. The ultimate goal of my research is the creation of hybrid organic-metallic materials with tailored optical and phonic properties. These specimens would possess order on multiple length scales, allowing new devices to be manufactured that can strongly interact with light or sound waves from multiple specified frequency ranges simultaneously. Possible applications for this technology include invisibility cloaks, transformation optics, specialized lenses for nanoscale microscopy, thermal insulation, and high electrical conductivity low thermal conductivity thermoelectric devices. I am currently researching mathematical models for photon and phonon behavior in periodic materials, in order to predict the necessary morphologies and materials for the desired properties. I am learning how to simulate the physics at hand via finite-difference time-domain and frequency-domain solvers. Suitably designed structures will be synthesized and characterized by myself and my collaborators. I am also investigating the use of rapid-prototyping technologies for their ability to quickly and reliably fabricate materials with macroscale and mesoscale order, for use as templates or substrates in conjunction with organic and hybrid block-copolymers. Additionally, I am interested in the broader applications of scientific study. I have donated time to three outreach projects in Ithaca and New York city during my time in the IGERT program, working with the Cornell Center for Materials research and the Ithaca Science Center on activities for High School teachers, Grade School teachers, and interested citizens with children. I would enjoy doing outreach or research in another country, broadening my scientific viewpoint and spreading the education I am receiving to other people and cultures. Finally, I plan on starting a business or joining a startup after earning my PhD, utilizing the knowledge I obtain through the IGERT program and Cornell in novel and innovative ways.


Tasha Zephirin
IGERT Trainee, 2010-2012; Associate Trainee, 2012-
B.S., Electrical Engineering
Engineering Education Research Group
Advisor: Dr. Monica Cox
Purdue University

 

 

Our research group focuses on a number of engineering education research projects in addition to the IGERT-MNM including the “Development of Leadership, Change, and Synthesis Attributes among Engineering Undergraduates” and “CAREER: An Examination of Graduate Education’s Role in Preparing Engineering students for Careers in Academia and Industry.” Specifically for the IGERT-MNM project, one of our efforts is the development of a “Best Practices in Teaching and Learning” module with the overarching objective of helping Trainees develop pedagogical expertise so they can integrate pedagogy into their disciplinary areas. Trainees will identify ways their technical research can be transferred to other formal and informal learning environments guided by educational research and theories. Our group also focuses on the evaluation of the supplemental IGERT education modules as well as the impact of the overall IGERT-MNM program on Trainees preparation for careers in academia and industry.  My research interests involve incorporating concepts from learning theories, international and global education, and multicultural education to best advise the development of STEM education to diverse audiences across the education continuum.  As such, I also assist with our goal of identifying ways to transfer graduate program elements via the development and the implementation of curricular materials within the program for multiple educational stakeholders (e.g., K-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and industry professionals). The IGERT fellowship has introduced me to the field of nanotechnology and fostered my interest in this area. With the diverse network of researchers and research areas within the IGERT-MNM program, I have gained an appreciation for the role of engineering education within technical research disciplines and hope to further develop nanotechnology education efforts. The ability to observe the similarities as well as unique cultures of the partnering institutions has broadened my experience in working with interdisciplinary teams and factors to consider when leading efforts to enact change. My new interest in ethical and societal implications of nanotechnology research has led me to apply for the Student Board Member position of the Student Pugwash USA organization. I also have had the opportunity to work with the Shalaev Group at the BIRCK Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University investigating possible avenues to improve the stability of silver thin-films in ambient conditions.

 

Tanya David, Ph.D. '14
IGERT Associate Trainee, 2010-2013
B.S., Chemistry
M.S., Materials Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Organic and Polymeric Materials Research Lab
Advisor:  Dr. Sam-Shajing Sun
Norfolk State University
Current Position: Virginia Commonwealth University, Research Associate

 

 

Our group focuses on the synthesis and characterization of novel polymer materials for electronic and optical applications under advisement of Dr. Sam-Shajing Sun. Organic materials, especially conjugated polymeric materials, continue to stand as the focus of research for sensors, organic field effect transistors, organic solar cells, and many other electronic and optoelectronic devices. In addition to their ease to process and cost efficiency, these organic materials possess desirable properties for optoelectronic devices, such as flexibility, property tunability by chemical modification, and conductive properties comparable to metal and inorganic semiconductor materials. Their conductive property, (a major component of conjugated materials) results primarily from the charge mobility of free electrons and holes on conjugated chains, with extensive research devoted to understanding charge mobility in non-conjugated and conjugated materials. Investigation of charge mobility in both regular thin film devices and more organized molecular junction devices continues in the field with emphasis upon these types of materials. Molecular junctions using organized molecular wires and self-assembled monolayers, rather than thin films, demonstrate greater efficiency, likely attributable to the improvement in charge mobility. To capitalize on understanding and improving charge mobility in polymer molecular junction devices, my research projects focused on the synthesis and characterization of self-assembled conjugated polymers, end-functionalized with typical docking groups (i.e. -RSH, -RSiR3,) for self-assembly on to conducting surfaces. Characterization studies of charge mobility and transport mechanisms of the conjugated polymer in optoelectronic devices persist as the main interests. Aside from developing myself as a researcher, participation in this IGERT program helped me mature professionally. Through the four professional development modules (Intellectual Property and Ethics, Writing, Independent Research, and Pedagogy), I obtained the tools necessary to “think like” and begin a career as a professional in a multidisciplinary world. I learned that becoming a professional scientist involves knowledge and skill beyond research expertise. For example, understanding how to communicate relevant, new technologies and innovations to the general public, or understanding the laws and ethics that govern scientists and their future inventions opened my thinking in areas other than laboratory investigation. This is just a small dose of the knowledge I obtained through this program, and it  empowers me with the professional development needed to become a well-rounded scientist.

 

 

Alexander Gavrilenko

Alexander Gavrilenko, PhD '12
IGERT Associate Trainee, 2010-2012
B.S., Information Technology; Network Security
M.S., Materials Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Advisor:  Dr. Carl Bonner
Norfolk State University
Current Position: Coursly LLC, CEO & Co-Founder

 

 

I am a computational materials scientist at Norfolk State University. Currently I am a PhD candidate working under Carl Bonner and Vladimir Gavrilenko in the Center for Materials Research. The goal of our group is to quantify the effects of chemical reactions on the electrical and optical properties of materials. Due to the surface to bulk ratio of nanoparticles and nanostuctured materials, all surface effects play a significant role on the overall properties of the materials. To this end we utilize density functional theory to model the ground state of the materials by performing total energy minimization. Once the equilibrium geometry is obtained we proceed to calculate the dielectric function using random phase approximation. To increase the reliability and provide a quantitative comparison to available experimental data, we supplement DFT with the inclusion of long-range forces, GW correction, and Bethe-Salpeter equation. Our current focus is in catalysis of carbon dioxide on silver-alloy surfaces. We investigate the ground state configurations and search for pathways, by calculating energy barriers, to efficiently break down the carbon dioxide on the surface of the alloy.




Rabia Hussain
IGERT Associate Trainee, 2011-
B.S., Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics
M.S., Physics
Magnetic Resonance and Plasmonics Lab
Advisor: Dr. Natalia Noginova

Norfolk State University





My name is Rabia Hussain. I am working with Dr. Natalia Noginova as a PhD candidate. I joined IGERT last year as an Associate Member. The main focus of my research work is to study the “Magnetic Nano Structured Systems”. Transition metals, like Europium organic compounds, in the proximity of dielectric and metallic materials are good choice for studying the electric and magnetic dipole response. Far field and near field optical studies are carried out for investigating the respective behaviors of electric and magnetic dipoles.  The methods or techniques used in this study are Fluorescence spectroscopy, kinetics measurements and NSOM (Near field Scanning Optical Microscope) studies. Various types of nanostructures used in this work are membranes, strips and thin films and metals used are gold and silver. The expected outcomes are significant variations in both electric and magnetic dipole responses which can further be tuned for a large number of different upcoming applications in the field of Optics and Metamaterials.  Further investigations include the possible coupling of plasmons of these nanostructures with emitted radiation. Being a part of IGERT, I got many chances to groom myself professionally like the effective education strategies, how to increase my writing capabilities, what is Intellectual Property etc. Undoubtedly these various aspects of IGERT are helping me to coach myself and will surely help me to be successful in my future endeavors.



Taina D. Matos Taina Matos, Ph.D. '12
IGERT Associate Trainee, 2010-2012
B.S., Chemistry
M.S., Materials Science
Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Biocatalysis and Surface Chemistry Research Lab
Advisor:  Dr. Anil Mahapatro
Norfolk State University
Current Position: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Examiner

I work in the Biocatalysis and Surface Chemistry group at Norfolk State University. Our group focuses on synthesizing biodegradable polymers using microwave enzyme catalyzed polymerizations for biomaterials. Another area of research that the group focuses is the surface engineering of metal alloys using SAMs. The purpose of surface modification of metal alloys help slow corrosion rates and allows us to further understand the oxidative and physiological stability of our coatings. My research project involves the formation of silane and phosphonic SAMs on the surface of Mg alloy. Further we study the stability of the surface coatings when exposed to air ambient conditions and physiological environments such as PBS, FBS and TBS. The synthesis of biodegradable polymers such as polypentadecalactone, adipic acid and sorbitol using microwave assisted lipase polymerization is carried in our facilities. These  biodegradable polymers can be used for further functionalization of our systems by forming polymeric nanoparticles for therapeutic drug delivery and as fluorescent markers.

 

 

Kavitha Ramane
IGERT Associate Trainee, 2011-2013
B.S., Electronics and Communications Engineering
M.S., Engineering Education
Engineering Education
Advisor: Dr. Monica Cox
Purdue University

 

 

I am Kavitha Ramane, and I began work as a design engineer immediately after receiving my bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering.  Over a  ten-year period, I gained experience working on different industrial products at Robert Bosch, Honeywell and TVS in India and the US.  I then became an IGERT Associate Trainee at Purdue University working under the direction of Dr. Monica Cox. My specialization was in Curriculum & Instruction Development for Electrical Engineering programs. I assisted with the development of the "Best Practices in Teaching and Learning" module through IGERT. My master's research work involved developing lesson plans in nanotechnology for Grade 5 - 8. My research interests further extend to higher education (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, industry professionals), and after obtaining my master's degree, I moved on to pursue my Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue. My doctoral research is based on economic analysis of the utilization of the wireless spectrum used by different service providers. I have performed various leadership roles throughout my engineering career, and hope to gain the necessary skills and understand national policy decision-making.  I enjoy travelling, exploring different cultures. This interest led me to work with my advisor, Brent Jesiek on global competent engineers and their Cultural Intelligence.

 




















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