Graduate School announces 2015 Shaheen Award winners

Author: Mary Hendriksen

The Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Awards.

The highest honor bestowed on Notre Dame graduate students, the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Awards were established in 1990 and are named for two long-time benefactors of the University. They recognize excellence as a graduate student in any one or a number of areas: grades, research and publications, fellowships or other awards, teaching, mentoring, and postgraduate positions offered or accepted. One Shaheen award winner is selected in each of the four divisions of the Graduate School—Engineering, the Humanities, Science, and the Social Sciences. This year, two students from the lab of Prashant Kamat, the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science, were honored with Shaheen Awards.

The 2015 Shaheen Award recipients are:

  • Engineering: Jeffrey Christians, Chemical Engineering
  • Humanities: Ailbhe Darcy, English and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies
  • Science: Douglas Hines, Chemistry
  • Social Sciences: Michael Hartney, Political Science

ENGINEERING: Jeffrey Christians, Chemical Engineering

Jeffrey Christians
Jeffrey Christians

Jeffrey Christians was honored for his pioneering research with thin film solar cells. Under the direction of Prashant Kamat, Jeff applied the lab’s expertise in time-resolved spectroscopy to further understand the charge-transfer processes that lead to charge separation and, ultimately, electricity generation, in solar cells. He then developed a model to describe the complex dynamics of charge separation and pinpointed the rate-limiting step in this model system. Most notably, his use of inorganic hole conductors in perovskite solar cells and the study of their degradation is a groundbreaking contribution in the field.

Jeff’s work resulted in seven scientific papers—five as first author—that have appeared in prominent journals. One, unique in its description of detailed methodologies for measuring device efficiency, was downloaded more than 1000 times in the first two weeks of its publication. He has also posted educational presentations on Slideshare and YouTube that have more than 10,000 downloads.

Jeff is joining the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a postdoctoral researcher working under Dr. Joseph Luther.

SCIENCE: Douglas Hines, Chemistry

Douglas Hines
Douglas Hines

Douglas Hines was honored for his tremendous impact in the investigation of cost-effective alternatives to the traditionally high-cost materials used in photovoltaic devices, or solar cells, which directly convert sunlight to electricity. Also under the direction of Prof. Prashant Kamat, Douglas investigated the ways in which chemical modifications of quantum dot surfaces can affect their stability, excited state properties, and charge transfer capabilities. His research has advanced understanding of electron transfer processes in semiconductor nanocrystals, and has helped to identify the ideal conditions for the preparation and operation of quantum dot solar cells.

Doug’s research resulted in five first-author publications in high-impact journals, including three articles in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Next year, Doug will be a visiting assistant professor at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.


Originally published by Mary Hendriksen at on May 27, 2015.