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UW Crest with engineering background
May 31, 2023

Engineering faculty lead five Research Forward projects

Research Forward, a competition sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has selected five projects led by College of Engineering researchers for the program’s third round of funding. Research Forward is intended to stimulate and support highly innovative, interdisciplinary and groundbreaking research at UW-Madison. It is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and provides funding for 1-2 years, depending on the needs and scope of the project.

Mikhail Kats, Jack St. Clair Kilby Associate Professor in electrical and computer engineering, is principal investigator for the Wisconsin Center for Semiconductor Thermal Photonics. The new research center which will explore fundamental science at the intersection of semiconductor technology and radiative heat transfer. The research will explore thermal radiation in unconventional semiconductor materials, nanostructures, and in extreme conditions to achieve control of the directionality and timing of radiative heat transfer. Co-PIs include Assistant Professors Jennifer Choy and Eric Tervo and Associate Professor Zongfu Yu in electrical and computer engineering as well as Assistant Professor Dakotah Thompson in mechanical engineering.

Nimish Pujara, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is principal investigator on a project titled “How Water Waves Can Help Us Better Predict Harmful Algal blooms and Ice Cover and Formulate New Management Practices.” The team will study how water waves could help predict and manage algal blooms and affect the freezing and melting times of lakes. Jennifer Franck, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is a co-PI.

Victor Zavala, Baldovin-DaPra Professor in chemical and biological engineering, is leading a project called “Accelerating the Discovery of Electrolyte Systems for Safe and Sustainable Energy Storage.” The project will develop computational and experimental techniques to gain fundamental understanding to help a accelerate the discovery of safe and sustainable electrolytes, a critical element in batteries. Using high-throughput computer models and experiments, the team will work to understand how electrolytes behave at small scales and how such behavior influences battery performance. Co-PIs include CBE Assistant Professors Rose Cersonsky and Matthew Gebbie, Associate Professor Reid Van Lehn, as well as Fang Liu, and assistant professor in materials science and engineering.

Marcel Schreier, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, is leading a project titled “Enabling Technologies for Industrial Electrochemical Synthesis.” Using electricity, as opposed to heat, to drive chemical reactions is one way to reduce the energy and carbon costs of the chemical industry. However, scaling these technologies up from the laboratory to industrial scale is difficult. This project aims to understand the bottlenecks in organic electrosynthesis and develop a generalizable framework for scaling organic electrosynthesis reactions. Styliana Avraamidou, an assistant professor in CBE, is co-PI.

Xudong Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering, is primary investigator for “Understanding the Formation of Polymer-Amino Acid Assemblies and Their Interaction with CO2 to Achieve Direct Carbon Removal from the Atmosphere.” The project will look at how amino acid molecules assemble together with metal ions into crystals on polymer surfaces and how these crystal interact with carbon dioxide to achieve optimal carbon capture. Co-PIs include MSE Professor Padma Gopalan, CBE Associate Professor Reid Van Lehn and CEE Assistant Professor Bu Wang.

A full list of Research Forward recipients can be found here.