By Cheryl R Stewart

Charles River Campus Has 21 New Full Professors: Nine ENG Faculty Among Those Promoted

March 6th, 2015 in Recent news


By Rich Barlow, BU Today

Faculty from five BU schools on the Charles River Campus have been promoted to full professor. Photo by Robert Dolan

Beholding creation, Christopher Schneider longs to understand the forces—evolution, environment, history—that have woven the astounding tapestry of living things. He researches how animal ecology acts with those forces in a given region, especially the tropics, to create new species and maintain biodiversity. His teaching, he says, aims to give students “direct experience with organisms in nature.”

Which is why they must tread carefully around alligators.

Schneider’s research and his instructional prowess, including a field trip to Florida for a herpetology class last spring, helped to make him one of 21 Charles River Campus faculty members elevated to full professor recently—in Schneider’s case, in the College of Arts & Sciences biology department.

Director of BU’s Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, Schneider has contributed to our understanding of biodiversity (he led the discovery several years ago of more than 100 species of tree frogs. He also trumpets the peril that biodiversity faces from climate change and the conversion of wild habitats to farming and other uses. “We are living in an age during which our actions threaten the world with the sixth great mass extinction in the history of life,” he says, adding that such disaster could be avoided if humans can only adopt more sustainable lifestyles. “Time,” however, “is not on our side,” he says.

While Schneider studies the vast interconnectedness of nature, Kamil Ekinci views the infinitesimally minute world of nanotechnology. Ekinci—now Professor Ekinci (ME, MSE) at the College of Engineering—earned his promotion in part by developing techniques to build nanoscale devices and to measure extremely small signals coming from these devices. His work, which promises many practical uses, including biomedicine, won him a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and a visiting fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Several new professors are known for pushing the boundaries of traditional academic responsibility. Michael Reynolds, elevated at the College of Fine Arts—doesn’t confine himself to his BU charges. Trying to reverse a decline in string instrument instruction in the late ’90s, Reynolds, an accomplished cellist and member of the Muir String Quartet, founded the Classics for Kids Foundation, which gives matching grants for instruments to schools and art groups nationally, especially for underserved kids. “Strong music programs have a very positive ripple effect on a school’s academics and student behavior,” he says.

At BU, Reynolds teaches his students ensemble management and entrepreneurship in music: “I spend a lot of time talking with them about finding best fits down the road for them, whether it be performing, teaching, arts administration, the growing world of musical entrepreneurship, or all of the above.” Winner of a Grammy and other awards, he knows what he’s talking about, having performed almost 2,000 concerts around the world (and a PBS broadcast from the White House during the Reagan administration).

As well as Christopher Schneider, Kamil Ekinci, and Michael Reynolds, the other promoted professors are:

Thomas Berger, CAS professor of international relations

Berger studies German and Japanese politics, focusing on nationalism, identity, and security. His War, Guilt and World Politics after World War II was named one of 2013’s best books by Foreign Affairs magazine. He is now writing a comparative study of alliance politics. His articles and essays have appeared in such publications as International SecurityReview of International StudiesGerman Politics, and World Affairs Quarterly.

Sean Elliott, CAS professor of chemistry

Elliott helped pioneer the study of electron transfer in metal-requiring proteins, using electrochemistry and spectroscopy. His dozens of journal articles, papers, and international talks are widely cited. He has won an NSF CAREER Award, two Research Corporation for Science Advancement Collaborative Innovation awards, BU’s Gitner Award, and the CAS Templeton Award for innovation and excellence in teaching.

Robert Pollack, CAS professor of mathematics and statistics

Pollack is an internationally known numbers theorist whose research is NSF-funded and whose papers have been published worldwide in the Annals of Mathematicslnventiones Mathematicae, and Duke Mathematical Journal. He won BU’s Gitner Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology.

Leonid Reyzin, CAS professor of computer science

Reyzin is an internationally known cryptography researcher studying the minimal assumptions needed for provably secure communication (such as user authentication and network security). He has helped to develop cryptography standards and consulted for industry. He won an NSF CAREER Award and the CAS Neu Family Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Daniel Segré, CAS biology and ENG bioinformatics and biomedical engineering

Segré uses theoretical and computational modeling and experimental tests to unravel cellular metabolism in microbes, yielding biomedical advances. With almost $8 million from the NIH, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense, he has written dozens of articles in leading publications and was a DuPont Horizons in Biotechnology distinguished speaker.

Irene Zaderenko, CAS professor of romance studies

Zadarenko specializes in the prose and medieval epic poetry of Spain, especially the Poema de mio Cid. She wrote two books on the poem and many journal articles on Spain’s Middle Ages. She is a regular on the lecture-and-panel circuit at conferences in the United States, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, and Canada.

Christopher Daly, College of Communication professor of journalism

Daly teaches reporting techniques and ethics to budding journalists. He writes a blog for learners of diverse backgrounds. He has written many scholarly essays, thousands of magazine and newspaper articles, and several books, including the centuries-spanning history Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation’s Journalism (2012).

Calin Belta, ENG professor of mechanical engineering and systems engineering

Belta helps answer important questions in engineering and systems biology with work in robotics and control, for which he develops computational tools, including network systems. A senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Belta is an associate editor of the SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization and has received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award and an NSF CAREER Award.

Edward Damiano, ENG professor of biomedical engineering

Damiano, famous for his development of a “bionic pancreas” for Type 1 diabetes sufferers, specializes in endocrinology and biomechanics. Last November’s University Lecturer, Damiano has raised more than $14 million for his research from such donors as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He has written dozens of journal articles and organized numerous seminars.

Martin Herbordt, ENG professor of electrical & computer engineering

Herbordt, a scholar of computer architectures and high-performance computing, researches accelerating algorithms that can be used in areas such as bioinformatics and computational biology. He created a commercially successful software package, has written widely cited articles and presentations, and received NSF, NIH, and industry grants, as well as IBM’s Faculty Award.

Catherine Klapperich, ENG professor of biomedical engineering and materials science & engineering

Klapperich integrates systems science and engineering to design diagnostic, cancer screening, and treatment-monitoring tools for underserved groups. A Kern Innovation Faculty Fellow, she directs the NIH-funded Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care and the Laboratory for Diagnostics and Global Healthcare Technologies. She is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Elise Morgan, ENG professor of mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and materials science & engineering

Morgan studies how mechanical signals contribute to the development, adaptation, degeneration, and regeneration of bone and cartilage. She has written dozens of widely cited journal articles and presentations. Her research and teaching awards include a Young Investigator Award from the International Osteoporosis Foundation and last year’s ENG Faculty Service Award.

Roberto Paiella, ENG professor of electrical & computer engineering and materials science & engineering

Paiella studies photonics and materials science and develops semiconductor structures and efficient devices, such as lasers, green light LEDs, and infrared detectors, that emit stronger light. He has won grants from the NSF, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Department of Energy. A senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, he sits on the editorial board for Scientific Reports.

Muhammad Zaman, ENG professor of biomedical engineering and materials science & engineering

Zaman specializes in the interface of cell biology, mechanics, systems biology, and medicine, using computational and experimental tools to understand and ultimately prevent cancer metastasis. He is equally devoted to the delivery of modern medical technology to the developing world. The recipient of numerous NIH grants and a recent Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorship, he has authored two books, seven book chapters, and dozens of widely cited articles on the properties of cell clusters and improved global health.

Martin Amlin, CFA professor of music

Amlin composes and plays classical music on the piano, chairs the school’s composition and theory department, and directs BU’s Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Composition Program. Internationally known for his work with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Boston Pops, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amlin has recorded works for major labels and received many grants.

Joshua Fineberg, CFA professor of music

Fineberg, a preeminent scholar and composer of electronic music, combines acoustical research with psychological aspects of music perception to create aural landscapes, a sense of place created by music that’s similar to people’s visual sense of place. Winner of international prizes and fellowships, Fineberg founded and directs BU’s Center for New Music. He has authored a book on contemporary music as well as music performed and recorded by leading American and European new music artists.

Edward Riedl, School of Management professor of accounting

Riedl studies the effect of international accounting and fair value accounting on accuracy in financial reporting. He has written for leading journals, and he sits on the editorial board for The Accounting Review. He is associate editor for the Journal of International Accounting Research. Last year, Riedl cochaired the American Accounting Association’s annual conference, the world’s largest gathering of accounting researchers.

Marshall Van Alstyne, SMG professor of information systems

Van Alstyne studies information economics, communications markets, intellectual property, and the effects of technology and information on society and productivity. He has two patents involving encryption technology and cocreated the concept of “two-sided networks” (in which products and services link two groups, as, for instance, a credit card links buyers and sellers.) The winner of an NSF CAREER Award, he has written for ScienceNatureHarvard Business Review, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

“We are incredibly proud of this talented group of faculty and the work they’ve been able to accomplish during their time here at BU,” says Jean Morrison, University provost. “Whether publishing seminal writings that challenge and expand our understanding of the world around us, discovering brighter, more efficient ways to deliver light, or engineering sophisticated, low-cost tools to diagnose and treat illness in underserved populations, all are helping to redefine their fields of inquiry and impacting countless lives through their research and teaching. They go to the very heart of our mission as a research university, and we are glad to see them continuing their careers here.”


MSE Graduate Student Invited to ARPA-E Energy Innovations Summit

January 9th, 2015 in Recent news

By Mark Dwortzan

MSE PhD student Meliha Godze Rainville

MSE PhD student Meliha Godze Rainville

MSE PhD student Meliha Gozde Rainville is one of only 100 US graduate students invited to attend the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, an annual conference and technology showcase that brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to explore the nation’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways. This year’s conference will meet in Washington, DC on February 9-11.

Now in its sixth year, the Summit offers a unique, three-day program of talks, seminars and networking events aimed at moving disruptive energy technologies out of the lab and into the market. Comprised of top technical, business and policy students from leading institutions who intend to work in the energy sector, the 100 invited graduate students learn about new energy initiatives, participate in a student-focused panel and breakout sessions, and network with corporate recruiters.

“Participating in the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit will give me an opportunity to access the latest improvements in energy technology, and to meet with different leaders from academia, business and government,” said Rainville. “The conference will also help me in my transition to business life, where I can combine my engineering background and passion for clean energy and sustainability.”

At Boston University, Rainville is using variety of X-ray techniques to improve our understanding of fundamental surface processes during thin film growth, an enabling technology for cheaper, faster and smaller electronic devices, including photovoltaic systems.

ARPA-E is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a US government agency focused on advancing research and development of advanced energy technologies.

 Cheryl Stewart, MSE/SE, contributed to this article.

Jillian Goldfarb Speaking at BU Global Conversations

November 5th, 2014 in Recent news

Global Conversations 2014

Global Conversations, sponsored by Santander Bank, are intended to spark new dialogue around “big picture” global themes. Join us in hearing from faculty experts from BU and beyond for an interdisciplinary, interactive, and informal look at four important issues affecting our world. Global Conversations are hosted by Global Programs, in partnership with departments and centers across the Charles River and Medical Campuses.

Seating is limited but open to all BU faculty, staff, and students. Each event will include lunch followed by a one-hour panel conversation. Register to attend at the individual links below.

Location: BU Castle, 225 Bay State Road

Monday, November 10th


“Cuban-U.S. Relations: What’s Up?  What’s Next?”

Partner: Latin American Studies 

  • Paul Hare, Lecturer in International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies; British ambassador to Cuba from 2001-04
  • Linda Heywood, Professor of African American Studies and History, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Renata Keller, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies
  • Stephen Kinzer, Journalist in Residence, Brown University 

Register to attend on 11/10

* – This Global Conversation will begin 15 minutes earlier than the others.

Friday, November 14th


“Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of the Tian’anmen Student Movement”

Partner: Center for the Study of Asia 

  • Joseph Fewsmith, Director of Undergraduate Studies; Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Pardee School of Global Studies
  • Rowena Xiaoqing He, Lecturer, Department of Government, Harvard University
  • Eugenio Menegon, Director, Center for the Study of Asia; Associate Professor of History
  • Robert Weller, Professor, Anthropology; Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs
  • Min Ye, Director of the East Asian Studies Program;  Assistant Professor of International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies

Register to attend on 11/14

Tuesday, November 18th


“Global Efforts in Converting Waste to Energy”

Partner: College of Engineering

  • Rachael Garrett, Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Sustainability Science, Harvard University; Assistant Professor, Earth and Environment, Boston University (starting July 1, 2015)
  • Jillian Goldfarb, Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Division of Materials Science & Engineering

Register to attend on 11/18

Thursday, November 20th


“The Ebola Crisis: Examining the Legacy of Infectious Disease Outbreaks”

Partner: Center for Global Health & Development 

  • George Annas, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law; Bioethics & Human Rights of School of Public Health; and Professor in the School of Medicine and School of Law
  • Susan Foster, Professor of Global Health, School of Public Health
  • William Keylor, Professor of International Relations and History, Pardee School of Global Studies
  • Kojo Yeboah-Antwi, Assistant Professor of Global Health, School of Public Health

Register to attend on 11/20

(Speakers represent Boston University, except where noted.)


Sponsored by

Santander Corporate Brand_CMYK_ Eng_Reg

Emily Ryan Named as One of the Hariri Institute 2014 Junior Faculty Fellows

November 4th, 2014 in Recent news

image007The Hariri Institute has named Emily Ryan (ME, MSE)  a 2014 Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellow in recognition of her outstanding computational work in the area of advanced energy systems.  Emily will be giving a lecture on her work in the CS lecture series on Dec. 12th at noon in Rm. 595 at 3 Cummington Mall.

Please mark your calendars and join us in congratulating Professor Ryan!


The Hariri Institute for Computing at Boston University is pleased to announce its fourth cohort of Junior Faculty Fellows. They are:

Samuel Bazzi, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Ksenia Bravaya, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry

Emily Ryan, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Division of Materials Science & Engineering

Gustavo Schwenkler, Assistant Professor, Department of Finance

Cara Stepp, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellows program was established in 2011 both to recognize outstanding junior faculty at Boston University working in diverse areas of the computational sciences, as well as to provide focal points for supporting broader collaborative research in these areas at BU and beyond. Junior Fellows are selected by the Hariri Institute Executive Steering Committee based on nominations received each spring, and are appointed for a two-year term.

Commenting on this fourth cohort of Hariri Junior Fellows, Professor Azer Bestavros, Director of the Institute, noted that “a remarkable attribute of the research of this year’s cohort of junior fellows is the degree to which computational and data-centric approaches are fundamentally changing their respective fields,” adding that “this is an indication of the paradigm shift in science and engineering and a testament to the increasingly important role of the Hariri Institute in connecting like-minded researchers at BU.”

Over the next several months, each of the Junior Faculty Fellows will be giving a Hariri Institute Distinguished Lecture. For more information and to receive notices about this and other Hariri Institute activities, please join the Institute mailing lists by becoming an affiliate member or by subscribing to the Hariri Institute’s mailing list for general announcements.  For more information, please visit the Institute’s web site.

Center for Computational Science (CCS) Seminars

October 3rd, 2014 in Recent news

This week marks the start of our new semester of the Center for Computational Science (CCS) seminars. The seminars will be on Friday afternoons at 12:00 noon, (with one exception of Monday, November 17th) in PRB595 (3 Cummington Mall) according to the schedule outlined below. We invite you to bring your lunch and scientific curiosity, and participate in our series of exciting seminars on a broad range of computational science topics.

Schedule for the Fall 2014 Center for Computational Science seminars
NOON PRB595 (3 Cummington Mall) on FRIDAY.

October 3rd – Professor David Coker, Chemistry/CCS, MSE, BU
October 10th – Professor Jianshu Cao – Department of Chemistry, MIT
October 31st – Professor Robert Kotiuga – ECE, BU
November 14th – Professor Enrico Bellotti, ECE, MSE, BU
November 17th (MONDAY) – Professor Udo Schwingenschlogl, Materials Science and Engineering, KAUST
December 5th – Professor Anatoli Polkovnikov, Physics, MSE, BU
December 12th – Professor Emily Ryan, Mech. Eng., MSE, BU

CCS Seminar
Friday – October 3, 2014
12:00 pm
Physics Research Building, Room 595
3 Cummington Mall
Professor David Coker 
Department of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Computational Science

Title: Quantum dynamical simulations of energy transport and charge separation in photosynthesis

An overview of theory and computational methods and models for treating dissipative quantum dynamics of complex condensed phase systems will be presented. Applications exploring the elementary processes in biological light harvesting including excitation energy transport in pigment-protein complexes and charge separation in photosynthetic reaction centers will be outlined.
About the Speaker: 

David Coker is a Professor of Chemistry at Boston University and an Adjunct Professor of Physics at University College Dublin (UCD). He is the Director of Boston University’s Center for Computational Science. He has served as the Director of UCD’s Complex Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL), as well as the Director of the Atlantic Center for Atomistic Modeling (ACAM), the Irish node of the pan-European network for particle based simulation, Centre Europeen de Calcul Atomique et Moleculaire (CECAM). He received his BSc in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Sydney, and his PhD in Statistical Physics from the Australian National University. He has been recognized as an NSF Presidential Young Investigator, CECAM Visiting Research Fellow (Ecole Normale Superieure, Lyon, France), Schlumberger Visiting Professor of Theoretical Chemistry (Cambridge University, UK), the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Stokes Professor of Nano Biophysics at UCD, and a visiting Senior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. His research focuses on understanding the excited state quantum dynamics and relaxation processes of large complex molecular systems important in Biology and Materials science.

2014 MSE Graduate Student Photo Contest Winners

May 22nd, 2014 in Recent news

Congratulations to our First, Second and Third place winners!


 First Place: Khwanchai Tantiwanichapan

Habibe Durmaz is preparing for the graphene fabrication in Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD furnace. Photo credit: Janyaporn Limpiyachart

Tantiwanichapan 1

Second Place: Yang Yu

Professor Karl Ludwig and Yang Yu are working on Hard X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy chamber at X24A2, National Synchrotron Light Source-I at Brookhaven National Lab.  Photo credit: Alexander DeMasi

Yang Yu 2










Third Place: Xiaoning Wang

Guangwu Duan is holding a quartz wafer with evaporated gold patterns for mercury sensing applications. Photo credit: Xiaoning Wang

Wang X

Uday Pal is Recipient of the 2014 R. E. Tressler Distinguished Award

April 28th, 2014 in Recent news

Pal 2 On April 17, 2014, Professor Uday Pal, Professor of the Division of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received the 2014 R. E. Tressler Distinguished Award and presented the 2014 R. E. Tressler Distinguished Lecture in Materials at Penn State University: “Manufacturing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells for Improved Electrochemical Performance through Polarization Measurements, Modeling and Analysis”. This honor was bestowed on Professor Pal because of his excellent and exciting work on materials based solutions to critical environmental and energy issues.

Professor Richard (Dick) E. Tressler had a huge impact on Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State and in the profession. He was instrumental in transforming the Department of Materials Science and Engineering into a modern materials department through reorganization and key faculty hires. To commemorate his legacy, Professor Tressler’s friends, alumni and faculty endowed the R. E. Tressler Distinguished Lecture and Award in Materials.

Congratulations to Professor Pal!

MSE Graduate Students Among Scholars Day 2014 Award Winners

April 28th, 2014 in Recent news

Congratulations to the Award winners!


Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology Award

Student: Erin Roberts

Advisor: Xin Zhang

Title:  Measurement of Cardiac Side Population Cellular Forces during Differentiation into Cardiomyocytes Using Micropillar Arrays


Photonics Center Herbert J. Berman Future of Light Prize

Student: Alket Mertiri

Advisor: Shyamsunder Erramilli

Title:  Nonlinear mid-infrared imaging on brain tissue pathology: A new label-free imaging technique using quantum cascade lasers


Office of Technology Development Award

Student: Emily Nelson

Advisor: Elke Muhlberger

Title: Post Transcriptional RNA Regulation During Ebola Virus Infection


College of Engineering Dean’s Award

Student: Mohammad Moghadasi

Advisor: Ioannis Paschalidis

Title: A multi-stage Monte Carlo minimization-based approach to protein docking refinement problem
Goldman School of Dental Medicine Dean’s Award

Student: Yi Zhong

Advisor: Eva Helmerhorst

Title: Isolation and Purification of a Gluten-Degrading Enzyme from Human Gastrointestinal Tract-Derived Bacteria


Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award

Student: Tracy Meehan

Advisor: Dr. Kimberly McCall

Title: Cell Corpse Engulfment and Processing is mediated by Apical localization of the Integrin Heterodimer αPS3βPS in the Drosophila Ovary


Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Dean’s Award
2 winners:

Student: Tony Gao

Advisor: Kathleen Morgan

Title: Aging Impairs Smooth Muscle Mediated Regulation of Aortic Stiffness

Student: Sarah Villard

Advisor: Swathi Kiran

Title: Inter- and Intra-Individual Variability in Non-Linguistic Attention in Aphasia


School of Medicine  

2 awards:

MED Dean’s Award to

Student: Kaitlin Sawatzki

Advisor:  Thomas Kepler

Title: Examination of antibody dynamics after vaccination against anthrax


GMS Master’s Award to

Student: Joseph Brazzo

Advisor: David Gunther

Title: Partial or Complete Coverage of Experimental Spina Bifida by Simple Intra-Amniotic Injection of Concentrated Amniotic Mesenchymal Stem Cells


School of Public Health Dean’s Award

Student: James Watt

Advisor: Jennifer Schlezinger

Title: Emerging toxicants induce adiptogenesis and suppress osteogenesis in mouse mesenchymal stromal cells


MET Award for Applied Science  

Student: Steve Scherr

Adviser: Selim Unlu

Title: Real-Time Digital Virus Detection


Humanities Award

Student: Colin Pang

Adviser: James Uden

Title: Notions of Masculinity in Catullus and Eminem


The Hariri Award for Transformative Computational Science Research

Student: Sarah Adel Bargal

Advisor: Stan Sclarloff

Title: A Study of Spatial Exploration Patterns of Children
The Hariri Award for Innovative Computing Models, Algorithms, and Systems

Student: Eran Simhon

Advisor: David Starobinski

Title:  Advance Reservation Games


Center for Information and Systems Engineering Award

2 awards:

CISE Award:

Student: Qi Zhao

Adviser: Ioannis Paschalidis

Title: Turning Constraint-Based Modeling on Its Head: Learning Cellular Objectives from Fluxes

CISE Second prize:

Student: Jing Conan Wang

Advisor: Ioannis Paschalidis

Title: Robust Anomaly Detection in Dynamic Networks



Announcing the 2014 BU MSE Innovation Grants Winners

March 28th, 2014 in Recent news

This year, 18 excellent proposals were submitted by faculty from the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences.  The selection committee, chaired by Professor Srikanth Gopalan, selected the following 2014 BU MSE Innovation Grant Winners:   

Linda Doerrer
“Molecular Thermoelectrics”

Much contemporary research strives to use the sun as a virtually inexhaustible energy supply, either directly in photovoltaic devices or indirectly by converting its light energy into the chemical energy of solar fuels. The sun’s outpouring contributes thermal energy as well as light energy, and the former is from far being efficiently used in our technology. If we are to make the most of the solar spectrum, materials that can harvest phonons as well as photons are needed. Thermoelectric materials have been less well-studied than photovoltaic materials, but not because they cannot contribute meaningfully to our energy needs. There are many unmet challenges in these materials because of the inherent contradictions in property requirements, a Gordian knot in materials chemistry which requires a new approach.  The Doerrer group will build highly anisotropic structures that facilitate electronic conduction in one dimension, while preventing strong thermal conductivity perpendicular to this flow.

Uday Pal and Peter Zink
“Innovative Recovery and Recycle of Critical Materials”

Rare earth (critical) metals (Dysprosium, Neodymium, Terbium, etc.) are mainly found in very small concentrations as oxides in native ores. Their concentrations in these ores can range from 1 to less than 0.1 w %. Current state-of-the-art extraction processes mainly employ hydrometallurgical techniques which generate large amounts of harmful waste and are capital intensive requiring large plant footprints. This makes it important to recycle the rare earth elements in products such as magnets (used in hybrid/electric vehicles, MRI units, computer hard disks), Phosphors, PV’s and Catalysts. Our technology based on solid oxygen ion conducting oxide membrane shows great promise for the production of critical metals directly from their oxidized feedstock by drastically simplifying the process, lowering the energy requirement, and reducing the environmental impact. The MSE Innovation grant will be used to demonstrate that the new technology can be used for rare earth extraction and recovery from their respective oxides. If successful the technology will be of great commercial interest.

Aaron Schmidt
“Adhesion Energy Microscopy”

The adhesion energy between dissimilar materials is a critical parameter in numerous fundamental problems and practical engineering applications in fields ranging from material science and mechanical engineering to biology and soft-matter physics. For example, adhesion has been shown to be major factor affecting the growth of tumor cells. However, the intermolecular force between different materials is often difficult to quantify, and the established method of measuring the force required to mechanically peel a thin film from a substrate is only applicable to a tiny subset of applications. We propose to develop a new microscopy technique based on high frequency thermal waves that will enable quantitative imaging of the adhesion energy between a solid substrate and soft materials including cells and other biological tissue, liquids, and polymers.

Allison Dennis
“Applying FRET Analysis to Nanoparticle Systems Experimentally and Computationally”

We develop fluorescent biosensors utilizing Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between a semiconductor nanoparticle quantum dot (QD) donor and an acceptor (a fluorescent dye, protein, or a second QD). FRET is the distance-dependent, non-radiative transfer of energy from an excited donor to an acceptor through dipole coupling. Ongoing work in nanoparticle-based fluorescent biosensor design incorporates ever more complicated nanostructures and combinations of nanoparticles, such that a very clear understanding of the foundation of the energy transfer mechanism and how it applies to nanoparticle systems is necessary to enhance our ability to appropriately design complex FRET systems and exploit the energy transfer in applications. This MSE Innovator grant will be used to study the energy transfer between a large heterostructured (core/shell) nanoparticle donor and a small organic acceptor experimentally and through a Monte Carlo model in order to ascertain where within the nanoparticle bulk the energy for transfer originates so that more accurate donor-acceptor distances can be determined. This understanding will then be applied to the design of complex nanomaterials-based FRET systems.

Kamil Ekinci
“Energy Harvesting from Active Biomaterials” 

Active microscopic biomaterials — such as bacteria and spores — provide an abundant and untapped source of energy, especially for low-resource settings. The potential of energy harvesting from microorganisms has been realized early on, and much research has been performed in this promising field. Most efforts in bio-energy harvesting from microorganisms have been focused on bio-chemical (e.g., photosynthesis) and bio-electro-chemical approaches (e.g., microbial fuel cells). Bio-mechanical motion of microorganisms remains largely unexplored as a source of energy. The goal of this project is to convert the mechanical motion of common microorganisms into electrical energy, opening up bio-mechanical energy harvesting at the micron and sub-micron scales.

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

For more information about the MSE innovation grants, and a list of past winners, please visit our website:

2014 ASM Materials Experience at Boston University

March 26th, 2014 in Recent news

Materials ExperienceAnnouncing the 2014 ASM Materials Experience New England

May 12, 2014 @ WPI
May 19, 2014 @ Boston University
VISION: A one day program to excite and encourage high school students to pursue ca-reers in materials science and/or applied science and engineering disciplines.
WHEN: Monday May 12, 2014 at WPI; Monday May 19, 2014 at BU
8:00 am to 3:30 pm
WHO: The event is open to HIGH SCHOOL Sophomores and Juniors.
WHERE: Worcester Polytechnic Institute; 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA
Boston University—Photonics Center; 8 Saint Mary’s St., Boston, MA
WHAT: Students selected for this one day event will participate in hands-on learning modules designed to demonstrate the nature of materials. Topics will demon-strate how materials are engineered through processing to perform as desired. Modules include Casting, Cryogenics, Shape Memory Alloys & more!
Please Note: Participants must make their own transportation arrangements.
APPLY: Please click here to apply for the BU Experience
Applications will be accepted up to March 31

For more information, please visit
And visit the ASM Materials Experience section
For more information on ASM Materials Camps & Scholarships, visit
Sponsored by the Boston, Northern New England, Rhode Island and Central MA Chapters of ASM International, Corporate Sustaining Members and the ASM Materials Education Foundation

Download ASM Flyer