Message from the Department Head

Michele Marcolongo
Michele Marcolongo

With politics in the air, Philly experienced the presidential race first hand as host city to the Democratic National Convention. Now that the confetti has settled and the candidates move into the general election, we can reflect back on what this year has meant for our department, outside of the political limelight and fully entrenched in labs, classrooms, and the real world, contributing to the research field and experiencing materials science and engineering hands-on.

This year has brought remarkable developments in facilities and research, as well as an unprecedented number of awards for our students and recognitions for our faculty and alumni. We are grateful for the people who constitute the department and who contribute to the excitement we experience every day.

We are celebrating the renovation and expansion of our state-of-the-art facilities. Two of our assistant faculty have begun conducting research in their newly renovated labs and we have expanded our instrumentation to include a lab dedicated to two donated molecular beam epitaxy instruments. Looking ahead, we are in the process of preparing for a renovation of new space set aside for an undergraduate lab that will support materials undergraduate laboratory classes, the first such lab for our department and a welcome advancement. Additionally, under the direction of Drexel Materials faculty member Jonathan Spanier, Drexel’s Core Facilities, essential to our research, as well as a university resource, has undergone a full renovation. These renovations reflect a commitment to the research enterprise that is essential to our core identity as a department.

Fusing multiple research strengths, the department has received a Drexel Areas of Research Excellence (DARE) internal grant to form a research institute of 30 faculty from across the University, who will engage in research in the synthesis and processing of new materials. DARE is a new University initiative, with five of 41 proposals awarded in the inaugural round.

With $5M in research expenditures, our faculty continue to build upon their work. In particular, it should be noted that Drexel was recently ranked in the top 50 for patents granted to universities worldwide. Of the patents that were granted to Drexel in 2015, 29% came from Drexel Materials alone.

Last fall, Drexel entered into a partnership with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Korea’s National Research Foundation to start a co-op program at Korea’s National NanoFab Center in Daejeon, South Korea. Likewise, Korean students will travel to Drexel to engage in research here at the University.

Under the aegis of energy, we have had several important discoveries come to light that have been published in ACS Nano, Science, and Nature Communications. Materials for health is another focus of our department’s research, and recent work has been published in Nature Communications and Nano Letters. New grants have also been received from NSF and the Department of Education to support research and scholarship in this area.

We truly have the best students, as evidenced by six of our students receiving eight prestigious national fellowships and scholarships this past year, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Department of Defense NDSEG, the Department of Energy SCGSR Fellowship, Udall Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship, Boren Fellowship, and Whitaker Fellowship. At commencement, our graduating students were once again recognized for their academic and research achievements with prestigious Drexel awards. Since 2006, our department has received 10 Drexel University “Outstanding Promise” awards and one of our students received this year’s Outstanding Dissertation Award.

Similarly, our faculty have been recognized for their excellence in research, teaching, and service with both national and Drexel awards, which include election to the Board of the Materials Research Society, the Nano Energy Award, RUSNANO Prize 2015, and Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, Alpha Sigma Mu Fellow, 2016 TMS Young Leaders Professional Development Award, and Drexel Awards for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement, Faculty Mentor, and 2016 Provost Fellow.

We are extremely proud of our alumni, as they continue to bring great recognition to Drexel with their professional achievements. Two of our PhD alumni have recently been appointed assistant professor at Vanderbilt University and University of Nevada at Reno. Likewise two PhD alumni were selected as part of the Drexel Magazine 2016 “Forty Under Forty.” Alumni were elected Fellow of Alpha Sigma Mu, received an MRS Postdoctoral Award, and were recognized with a Drexel University Alumni Association Service to the Profession Award.

This is merely a snapshot of the continued energy and momentum within the department. I encourage you to read more in-depth to learn more about our evolving and vibrant department. As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Michele Marcolongo, PhD, PE, AIMBE