Symposium NM01: Janus Nanomaterials—Design, Fabrication and Applications
Symposium MD02: Data-Driven Multiscale Studies of Materials—Computations and Experiments

MRS Award Recipients – Lightning Talks and Panel Discussion

Written by Cullen Walsh

At this year’s MRS conference, five materials researchers who were named for prestigious MRS awards were invited to give flash talks about their research. This was followed by Q&A with the audience during a panel discussion.

George Malliaras, the Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the MRS Mid-Career Researcher Award for his contributions to organic electronic materials. He discussed how his research group takes cells from a patient and reprograms them to treat diseases. Specifically, he highlighted his work on biohybrid implants that contain both electronics and tissue. Through this combination, he showed that we can both maintain the health of a system and sustainably interface with the local biology while also inducing and guiding tissue repair.

Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel, the Director of Education and Outreach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, received the MRS Impact Award. She discussed engaging public audiences with educational activities inspired by research being performed at her university. Gillian-Daniel’s goal is to create educational opportunities and content for people of all backgrounds and ages. She highlighted her current project, called Science Outreach at the Pantry, which involves engaging with people in the waiting area of a local food pantry and distributing science activity kits.

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, an associate professor at the University of Utah, was awarded the Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award for her work on electronic transfer between organic-inorganic interfaces. In her flash talk, Whittaker-Brooks first discussed her work on improving the electrical properties of organic electronics. For instance, she showed that by bonding dopants to organic electronics we can prevent dopant aggregation. She also discussed her research into point defects in transition metal dichalcogenides and showed how we can tune the capacitance of these materials using the defect density.

Awards Lightning Talks_800 wide

Qi Qian, a postdoc at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Yeonsik Choi, a former postdoc at Northwestern University, both received the MRS Postdoctoral Award. Qian talked about her research into high-quality van der Waals heterojunctions and superlattices for use in quantum transport. Her research extends to systems beyond two-dimensional materials by exploring three-dimensional organic and inorganic systems that also experience van der Waals forces. She highlighted her work on creating high-quality van der Waals contacts for lead halide perovskites as well as her research into intercalating organic molecules between van der Waals layers to tune their electronic properties.

Choi talked about his research into transient electronics that can be integrated into the human body. Specifically, he discussed his research into temporary cardiac pacemakers. Current cardiac pacemakers require invasive connections between the device and the heart and risky removal surgery after use. In contrast, Choi wants to make pacemakers that are both wireless and transient, meaning they dissolve within the body after use. To achieve this, he designed a stimuli-responsive polymer-based device that can survive in a rat’s body for over a month then degrade without compromising the health of the patient. 

During the panel discussion, the researchers working on bioelectronics were asked what possible impact artificial intelligence could have on their technologies. Malliaras discussed how artificial intelligence could help them fine-tune the stimulation in their bioregenerative implants. The award recipients were also asked about the challenges they faced over the course of their careers. Whittaker-Brooks talked about her experience as a Fulbright scholar from Panama and how that shaped her career as a scientist, while Gillian-Daniel talked about her experience transitioning from being a PhD researcher to an education outreach specialist.

Suveen Mathaudhu of Colorado School of Mines, chair of the MRS Awards Committee, moderated the Lightning Talks.


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