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ND Energy Announces 2018 Graduate Student Research Fellowships

Nina Welding • DATE: January 29, 2018

The Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy) has announced the 2018 recipients of the Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research and the Forgash Fellowship for Research in Solar Energy. Graduate students compete annually for these prestigious awards, which provide funding to support their energy-related research projects. The students are selected based on academic achievements, research capabilities, and having a clear understanding of the current issues and challenges in energy as evidenced in their research proposals.

According to Peter C. Burns, Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences and Director of ND Energy, “It is becoming increasingly more difficult for our reviewers to identify a select few for these awards. With the rising number of students resolved to finding long-term, sustainable energy solutions, we are confident that the applicants chosen for 2018 awards are well prepared to contribute to the mission of ND Energy and the advancement of research in energy at Notre Dame. We are proud to welcome them to our team.”

The 2018 award recipients of the Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship are:

Yolanda Bonita
Yolanda Bonita is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Yolanda works with Prof. Jason Hicks. Her research project titled “Catalytic Performance of Molybdenum Based Bimetallic Phosphide Catalysts for C-O Bond Activation for Renewable Energy Production” will focus on the discovery of bimetallic, Earth-abundant, metal-based catalysts to transform lignocellulosic biomass into liquid fuels and chemicals.

Feng Gao
A fourth-year graduate student also in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Feng Gao works with Prof. William Phillip. His research project titled “Elucidating the Role of Electrostatic Interactions in Facilitating Ion Transport through Charge-Mosaic Membranes for Water Purification and Desalination Applications” will focus on membrane separations and water purification and desalination applications at the food-energy-water nexus.

Rebecca Scheidt
Rebecca Scheidt is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Rebecca works with Prof. Prashant Kamat, and her research project titled “Charge Carrier Migration and Halide Ion Movement in All-Inorganic Perovskite Films for Photovoltaic Applications” will concentrate on the fundamental understanding of photo-induced processes in gradient and mixed halide lead perovskites.

Andrew Schranck
A fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, Andrew Schranck works with Prof. Kyle Doudrick. His research project titled “Urea Electrolysis Cells for Producing Hydrogen Fuel” will focus on electrochemical urine treatment technologies for clean wastewater, using real urine in electrochemical systems as a means for producing hydrogen fuel from a waste stream.

The 2018 award recipient of the Forgash Fellowship is:

Sergiu Draguta
Sergiu Draguta, a fifth-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, works with Prof. Masaru Kuno. His research project titled “Spatially-resolved Charge Carrier Transport Measurements in High Efficient Perovskite Solar Cells” focuses on the microscopic photo-physics of hybrid perovskite solar cells, using spatially-resolved optical and electrical measurements, benefiting the broad community of basic research scientists involved in the hybrid perovskite field.

Fellowships in energy-related research are made possible through the generosity of Notre Dame alumni and their families. The Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research was established in 2012 by Patrick (ND ‘90) and Jana Eilers. Other endowments contributing to the Eilers Fellowship are the Fitzpatrick Endowment for Excellence for the Center for Energy, established in 2008 by Edward Fitzpatrick, Jr. (ND ’54), and the Michael A. O’Sullivan Endowment for Excellence in Energy Research, established in 2014 by Michael A. O’Sullivan (ND ’82). The Forgash Fellowship for Research in Solar Energy was established in 2009 by John (ND ’00) and Karla Forgash.

— Barbara Villarosa, ND Energy