Two PhD students awarded NSF Fellowships

Kyle Bushick and Brian Macdonald recently received the prestigious grant for their significant research achievements.
Two PhD students awarded NSF Fellowships

Kyle Bushick and Brian Macdonald

MSE is proud to announce that two of our Ph.D. students, Kyle Bushick (Kioupakis group) and Brian Macdonald (Tuteja/Mehta groups), were recently granted NSF fellowships for the 2019-20 year.

According to the NSF website, the purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to "help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education."

The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education.

As a member of the Kioupakis group, Bushick’s research thus far has focused on the characterization of the optical and electronic properties of boron arsenide (BAs), which is a semi-conductor that has recently garnered significant attention for its ultra-high thermal conductivity. Findings from this research were published in Applied Physics Letters earlier this year.

A second-year graduate student in the Tuteja and Mehta labs, Macdonald received the award for his proposal titled, “Tethered Liquid-Like Layers: A New Design Principal to Combat Soft Fouling.” His research abstract is below:

The undesired adhesion of solid contaminants to a surface is termed solid fouling. Solid fouling broadly includes the surface adhesion of ice, clathrate hydrates of natural gases, inorganic scale deposits, polymers in solution, proteins, dust and dirt, as well as a wide range of biological materials. However, the mechanisms required to remove or prohibit the adhesion of hard and soft foulants with varying size are much different. For large, high modulus foulants such as ice and barnacles that elastically deform surfaces when under stress, lowering the bulk elastic modulus and increasing interfacial slippage (i.e. violation of the no-slip boundary condition at the foulant-substrate interface due to the presence of mobile polymeric chains) is beneficial. In contrast, soft foulants such as biofilms, algal spores, proteins, and polymers are repelled by surface chemistries which strongly attract solvents such as water, creating an enthalpic barrier to adhesion. Yet to date, there is no established approach to broadly mitigate the fouling of soft biological matter, or other low modulus species. Liquid-like layers grafted to the surface of materials leverage the understanding and design principals utilized for hard and soft fouling prevention and offer a durable, facile solution to prevent soft fouling specifically. Unlike traditional soft-foulant mitigation strategies, liquid-like layers rely on interfacial slippage for preventing solid adhesion regardless of the inherent foulant modulus. This work has preliminarily shown such liquid-like layers to prevent the adhesion of a broad range of soft polymer species in solution. These liquid-like layers are to be further investigated as a facile means to broadly prevent soft matter fouling.

Our heartiest congratulations to both Kyle and Brian!