Graduate students receive 2020 Eilers and Forgash Awards to advance energy research

Author: Barbara Villarosa

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ND Energy is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research and the Forgash Fellowship for Solar Energy Research. These fellowships support graduate education and advancements in energy-related research at the University of Notre Dame.

Administered by ND Energy, students are selected through a competitive review process based on academic achievements, scholarly initiatives, project scope and objectives, and contributions to advance one or more of ND Energy’s research focus areas.

“I am continually impressed with the caliber of students applying for these awards. All are extremely talented, highly capable, and well suited to advance key research areas in energy, including energy conversion and efficiency, smart distribution and storage, and transformative solar,” said Peter C. Burns, Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences and director of ND Energy.

The current recipients of the Eilers and Forgash fellowships and their research projects are highlighted below:

Eilers Shelby Brantley Headshot Small

Shelby Brantley is a fourth-year chemistry student in the research group of Steven Corcelli, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Her Eilers project, “Understanding the Dynamics of Solid-Electrolyte Interphase in Sodium Ion Batteries with Fluoroethylene Additive,” focuses on improving the life and capacity of rechargeable batteries by changing the dynamics of the electrolyte solution to eliminate irreversible build-up on the electrode surface. This work is in collaboration with Colorado State University.

Eilers Jeff Dubose Head Shot Small

Jeffrey DuBose is a third-year chemistry and biochemistry student in the research group of Prashant Kamat, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science. His Eilers project, “Understanding How Phase Segregation Occurs in Mixed Halide Perovskite Solar Cells,” focuses on studying the process that will allow scientists to develop strategies to improve the stability and performance of solar cells.

Eilers Elvis Eugene Small

Elvis Eugene is a third-year chemical engineering student in the research group of Alexander Dowling, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. His Eilers project, “Revolutionizing Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling with Membrane Separations: Multiscale Modeling, Optimization, and Uncertainty Quantification,” focuses on developing model-based designs to predict minimum membrane characteristics and innovative network topologies to improve existing battery recycling technology and materials. This work is in collaboration with William Phillip, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and the WATER Lab.

Eilers Hunter Ford Small

Hunter Ford is a fourth-year chemical engineering student in the research group of Jennifer Schaefer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. His Eilers project, “Electrochemically Stable Ionomers with Minimal Sulfur Affinity for Mitigating the Polysulfide Shuttle in Metal-sulfur Batteries,” focuses on developing transport altering polymers for “beyond lithium-ion” high energy density rechargeable batteries.

Eilers Headshot Mitsugu Hasegawa Small

Mitsugu Hasegawa is a fifth-year aerospace and mechanical engineering student in the research group of Hirotaka Sakaue, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering. His Eilers project, “Development of a Drag Reduction Technique Using a Microfiber Coating Inspired by Hair-follicles on the Seal,” focuses on developing a hairy coating, similar to aquatic mammals, that will reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel efficiency.

Forgash Ilia Pavlovetc Gcs 8

Ilia Pavlovetc is a fourth-year chemistry and biochemistry student in the research group of Masaru Kuno, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering. His Forgash project, “Cation Migration in Mixed Cation Lead Halide Perovskites Thin Films and Solar Cells,” focuses on exploring, understanding, and suppressing electric-field induced cation migration in perovskite solar cells, overcoming one of their intrinsic instabilities that impede their commercialization.

Eilers and Forgash fellows will have opportunities to present their research projects and participate in STEM-related outreach activities for elementary, middle, and high school students. These activities are provided by ND Energy to complement research programs in the laboratories and to help students develop communication and other skills essential for success in the workplace.    

“Opportunities to engage aspiring students in learning about college-level research aligns perfectly with my career goals,” said DuBose. “By getting students involved early on and excited about STEM education, hopefully this will open more doors for them in higher education.”

At the conclusion of the fellowship year, students are requested to submit a final report, summarizing their research progress and results, and other scholarly outcomes, such as proposal submissions, journal articles, conference abstracts, and awards. “I am honored to receive the Eilers fellowship and be recognized by ND Energy in this way. I appreciate everything ND Energy does to support graduate education and research at Notre Dame,” said DuBose.

Graduate-level research provides unique opportunities for students to create new discoveries, scientific breakthroughs, and technological advancements, while addressing some of the most critical energy issues facing the world today. Since the Eilers and Forgash programs began in 2012 and 2010, respectively, ND Energy has awarded $275,446 to 35 science and engineering students to support their education and research expertise in energy.

“We are grateful to have so many graduate students join our research network. I am encouraged by their unique contributions and the influence they will have on future directions in energy-related research and education,” said Burns.

Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at on January 29, 2020.