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Four Rising CoE Faculty Stars Win 2018 NSF Career Awards

April 16, 2018

The College of Engineering is pleased to announce the names of four faculty who have received National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program awards, the most prestigious science awards in support of early-career research.

The 2018 recipients are Leslie Lamberson, Ekaterina Pomerantseva, Ioannis Savidis and Maureen Tang.

To be eligible for a CAREER, winners must demonstrate outstanding, innovative research that furthers the mission of their fields, and a commitment to education and community service, according to the NSF website. Each of the $500,000 awards extends over five years.

Leslie Lamberson, the P.C. Chou Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, won the CAREER for her research, “Integrated Research and Education on the Dynamic Behavior of Metal-ceramic Layered Solids.” Lamberson will use the grant to generate new knowledge related to an emerging class of unique materials known as MAX phases.

These hybrid metal-ceramic materials form layers on the atomistic scale, much like pieces of paper stacked together, which allows the layers to locally kink instead of cracking under load. This kinking behavior has only recently been discovered, yet, if understood, has the potential to provide tougher, lighter and more damage-tolerant materials for application across energy, communication, and transportation systems. Lamberson will investigation MAX phases with varying stacking sequences and layer orientations across a variety of real-world loading conditions, including impact, and dynamic fatigue and fracture.

In addition, experimental techniques utilizing cutting-edge, high-speed imaging coupled with surface acceleration mapping under these complex loading scenarios will be performed with the intent of extracting more material behavior information than classical techniques. The findings will provide meaningful input for predictive computational models in structural design leveraging MAX phases.

Lamberson received her BS in aerospace engineering, along with a BA in dance performance. She earned her PhD from the California Institute of Technology. She has been with Drexel since 2012.

Ekaterina Pomerantseva, the Anne Stevens Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, won for her research “Controlling Two-Dimensional Heterointerface in Layered Oxides for Electrodes with Advanced Electrochemical Properties.” Her aim is to advance the next generation of batteries so they can sustain a single charge longer, tolerate high current densities, and have a longer overall life.

Pomerantseva’s research will mitigate an issue of low electronic conductivity of oxide materials while maintaining their high electrochemical activity and creating an entirely new class of ceramic, two-dimensional electrodes in which layers of oxide will be stacked with layers of electronically conductive materials in a controllable sequence.

The performance of the electrodes will be evaluated in lithium-, sodium-, and potassium-ion batteries to show the potential of synthesized materials to be used in energy storage devices operating due to reversible cycling of ions with difference size and mass. Practically, using sodium and potassium ions will enable cheaper and larger-scale batteries, since sodium and potassium are more abundant than lithium.

Pomerantseva received her BS in materials science from Moscow State University, and a PhD in solid-state chemistry from Moscow State University. She came to Drexel in 2013.

Ioannis Savidis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, won the CAREER for his research “Parameter Obfuscation: A Novel Methodology for the Protection of Analog Intellectual Property.” His grant will be used to explore techniques that enhance the security of an analog circuit from attacks, such as reverse engineering and cloning, both of which lead to Intellectual Property (IP) theft.

Analog parameter obfuscation is proposed as a means to protect circuits from theft. The large design space for analog parameter obfuscation—which includes biasing conditions, gains, bandwidths, noise figure, quality factors, center frequency, phase noise, and many more—provides a means to mask analog circuit functionality beyond the simple binary functional logic locking that has been developed for digital circuits.

Savidis will work toward the development of a new security paradigm, “parameter obfuscation,” for the protection of analog integrated circuits; analysis of the parameter search space through the development of algorithms and methodologies that target hardware security; development of initial metrics for the evaluation of parameter obfuscation techniques; and the implementation of the obfuscation technique on a superheterodyne receiver. The vision of improved hardware security through novel circuit design techniques and methodologies will impact every consumer, commercial and military device that uses integrated circuits for computation.

Savidis received his BSE in electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering from Duke University. He received PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Rochester. He came to Drexel in August of 2013.

Maureen H. Tang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, won her CAREER for research on “Predicting Battery Lifetime from Direct Measurements of Inter-electrode Communication.” Tang will work towards improving the lifetime of advanced batteries for vehicle transport and renewable electricity grid storage applications.

At present, the main cause of battery failure involves undesirable chemical side reactions that are very complicated and difficult to understand. Because these reactions are so difficult to measure directly, battery scientists are less able to design materials and devices that can withstand side reactions for longer times. As a result, to date, engineers mainly rely on empirical failure tests that increase the time and cost of developing new technology.

Tang’s CAREER award applies new methods to directly measure side reaction rates that impact battery lifetime and performance. Information about reaction rates will then be used to build system models that predict battery lifetime. The results will allow researchers to design materials that last longer and to predict device failure much more rapidly than traditional methods.

Tang received her BS in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She received her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and did postdoc work at Stanford University. She has been with Drexel since 2014.