Three MSE PhD students receive Rackham Predoctoral Awards

The prestigious fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious, and impactful.
Three MSE PhD students receive Rackham Predoctoral Awards

MSE PhD students Joonsoo Kim (Sun group), Jinhong Min (Li group), and Vishal Subramanian (Gavini group) all received Rackham Predoctoral Awards for 2024-25.

MSE is proud to announce that Ph.D. candidates Joonsoo Kim, Jinhong Min and Vishal Subramanian each received a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship for 2024-25. 

The prestigious fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious, and impactful. The award includes a stipend and covers tuition and required fees for twelve months.

A member of the Sun group, Joonsoo Kim’s research aims to better understand the thermodynamics and kinetics of crystal growth in unconventional supersaturated solutions. Traditionally, crystals have been grown in supersaturated aqueous solutions, so material growth in aqueous solutions is understood quite well. However, as materials science became more advanced, materials syntheses also became more sophisticated and now require unconventional syntheses. These syntheses conditions haven’t been understood qualitatively and quantitatively. 

“Lacking such knowledge is like navigating without a map,” explained Kim. “Thus, our goal is to show – through a new growth mechanism of dolomite crystals and the thermodynamic analysis of ammonothermal synthesis - the essential understanding of crystal growth in such unusual conditions.”

Charging and discharging individual battery particles to try to understand their fundamental mechanisms is the focus of Jinhong Min’s research with the Li group.

“It has been believed that the cracking in cathode particles is only detrimental for Li-ion batteries, especially in the perspective of cell capacity degradation,” explained Min. “Contrary to the belief, I figured out that cracking is an enabler for the fast (dis)charging of Li-ion batteries. I discovered it thanks to our novel high-throughput single-particle electrochemistry platform.”

Vishal Subramanian’s impressive work with the Gavini group developing algorithms and scalable implementations for fast density functional theory (DFT) calculations on large-scale systems recently earned him a Gordon Bell Prize – the highest honor given in high-performance computing. 

“Density functional theory calculations can help us understand bonding, reaction mechanisms, and other processes integral to explaining materials' behavior,” said Subramanian. “Achieving quantum accuracy in DFT calculations will enable the prediction of material properties for a wide range of systems with unprecedented accuracy and detail. This can significantly accelerate the design and discovery of materials, aligning with the core objectives of the Materials Genome Initiative.”

Congratulations to Joonsoo, Jinhong and Vishal!