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Prineha Narang, BS, 2011

Prineha Narang
Materials Engineering

Featured in Pennoni Honors College The Honor Roll, August 2011

While research and service are typically seen as separate endeavors, I believe that to tackle some of the most pressing problems we face today, like sustainable energy generation and storage, requires that the two realms be brought together, enabling those with strong technical backgrounds to invent creative solutions to very real problems. I envision a career that integrates science and service and gives me the opportunity to use my skills as an engineer to solve problems that people face on a daily basis. Through my research as a materials scientist, I would like to address the need for improved energy storage solutions, critical to meet the projected energy demands of the future.

My research so far has focussed on building better energy storage devices specifically better batteries in Dr. Yury Gogotsi (at Drexel) and Dr. Frances Ross' group (at IBM TJ Watson Research Center). At IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, I worked on in situ high-resolution liquid transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies of battery materials. My particular interest is in the microstructural changes that take place during the cycling of batteries such as lithium- air and zinc-air. I will be starting a PhD program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) this summer/ fall.

International Research Experience: At the conclusion of my sophomore year, I was awarded the DAAD-RISE  (German Academic Exchange Organization - Research Internships in Science & Engineering) Fellowship for research at the Fraunhofer Insitute for Plasma Modification of Materials IFAM in Bremen, Germany. Paired with a senior researcher at IFAM, I learned the value of international collaboration in science. I grew to appreciate the pronounced diversity in Europe and the unique contributions each culture brought to the workplace. As I continued my research in Dr. Gogotsi’s group, I was fortunate to receive the NSF-International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) award to visit Groupe de Recherches sur l'Energétique des Milieux Ionisés (GREMI) in Orleans (France). During my time there, I gained invaluable experience in fundamental high energy physics, device fabrication, and the crucial link between basic science and industry that GREMI exemplifies.

My goal beyond my doctoral research is to set a trajectory such that I am able to continue transformative research in energy applications, working at the interface of basic research and industrial applications, preferably in an energy- focused national lab. In the long term, inspired by prominent scientists I have worked with, I endeavor to pursue a leadership role in the Department of Energy to impact the focus and future of energy research in the United States.