ND Energy announces 2022 Eilers and Forgash fellows

Author: Barbara Villarosa

2022 Eilers Forgash

The Center for Sustainable Energy (ND Energy) at the University of Notre Dame announces the 2022 recipients of The Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research and The Forgash Fellowship for Graduate Student Research in Solar Energy. These fellowships recognize Notre Dame graduate students for their outstanding achievements in research and scholarship and their capabilities to contribute to a more sustainable energy future through the richness of their research projects.   

“We are grateful to the Eilers and Forgash families for recognizing the important contributions of students to the development of sustainable energy solutions,” said Peter C. Burns, Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and director of ND Energy. “Their support over the past twelve years has enabled more than fifty students to advance research in areas that support our mission.” 

Inspired by Pope Francis's Encyclical, Laudato Si', the 2021-22 Notre Dame Forum, Care for our Common Home: Just Transition to a Sustainable Future, focuses on global climate change, primarily due to increases in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of human activity. Throughout the academic year, the entire Notre Dame community will engage in a series of conversations and events with an aim to contribute to an equitable transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

“Student fellowships are more relevant than ever with the world-wide focus on climate change and our campus-wide focus to address the need to care for our common home,” said Burns. “Our fellowships reinforce and strengthen actions in research and development toward mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiencies, and developing new technologies that contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for generations to come.”

The Eilers Fellowships are made possible through the generosity of Patrick (ND ’90) and Jana Eilers with support from The Fitzpatrick Endowment for Excellence for the Center for Energy, The Michael A. O'Sullivan Endowment for Excellence in Energy Research, and the ND Energy President’s Circle Endowment.

Eilers fellows will apply their awards toward advancing research as follows:

Michael Dugas is a graduate student in the laboratory of William Phillip, Rooney Family Collegiate Chair of Engineering and Associate Professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Dugas’s project, titled “Understanding Electrostatic Interactions in Functionalized Copolymer Organic Solvent Nanofiltration Membranes,” seeks to develop robust copolymer membranes designed for organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN), contributing to the development of sustainable and cost-effective separation processes that can be used for seawater desalination and chemical distillation and extraction. Dugas is from Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA.

Anthony Kipkorir is a graduate student in the laboratory of Prashant V. Kamat, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Radiation Laboratory. Kipkorir’s project, titled "Designing AgInS2-CdS Heterostructure with Improved Charge Separations," studies metal halide perovskites and ternary semiconductors as photocatalysts for the conversion of light energy into value added products, specifically to investigate the role of the inorganic shell on the heterostructures. Kipkorir is from Nairobi, Kenya.

Deanna Poirier is a graduate student in the laboratory of Jason Hicks, Tony and Sarah Earley Collegiate Associate Professor of Energy and the Environment in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Poirier’s project, titled "Plasma-Assisted Catalysis for Upgrading Ethane to Valuable Liquid Products through Carbon-Nitrogen Coupling," studies how non-thermal plasmas and catalysts work in concert to direct C-H activation, N2 activation, and C-N coupling reaction, realizing direct liquid production from shale resources that can be used for on-site upgrading of hydrocarbons to valuable liquid products. Poirier is from Nashua, New Hampshire, USA.

Hui Xu is a graduate student in the laboratory of Casey O’Brien, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Xu’s project, titled “Operando Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) Platform for Studying the Structure and Dynamics of Amine-based Membranes in Complex Environments,” focuses on developing new catalytic membranes that enable the integration of carbon capture and conversion into valuable fuels and chemicals using a single unit process, and thereby eliminating several energy-intensive processes. Xu is from Beijing, China.

Lingyu Yang is a graduate student in the laboratory of Jennifer Schaefer, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Yang’s project, titled “Development of a Novel Polymer Membrane Platform for Alkaline Fuel Cell Electrolyte Application,” focuses on developing new fuel cell membranes to support advancement of alkaline exchange membrane (AEM) fuel cells, which are used to convert chemical fuels into electricity; thereby contributing to a clean energy future via improved energy efficiency, increased use of renewable generated electricity, and displacement of fossil fuels. Yang is from Chongqing, China.

The Forgash Fellowship is made possible through the generosity of John (ND ‘00) and Karla Forgash.

The Forgash fellow will apply his award to advancing solar energy research as follows:

Jishnudas Chakkamalayath is a graduate student in the Kamat laboratory. His project, titled “Interfacial Processes in Perovskite-Metal Hybrid Structure for Photocatalytic Applications,” studies semiconductor-metal hybrid systems as photocatalysts to elucidate the photoinduced charge transfer processes across the semiconductor interface, which is key for converting light energy into electricity or fuels. Chakkamalayath is from Kerala, India.

ND Energy has provided student fellowships at the graduate level since 2009 through the generosity of donor support. To learn more about the Fellowships, please visit https://energy.nd.edu/research/fellowships/.

About ND Energy

ND Energy is a University Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing the world today. For more information, please contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at bvillaro@nd.edu or 574-631-4776.

Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at energy.nd.edu on February 15, 2022.