Drexel Materials PhD alumni Dr. Davide Mattia (’07, advisor: Yury Gogotsi) and Dr. Michael Naguib (’14, advisors: Michel Barsoum and Yury Gogotsi) have been selected as two of Drexel University Magazine’s “Forty Under Forty” for 2016 – 40 alumni under the age of 40 who are breaking new ground and excelling in their fields. Both alumni previously received Drexel’s Outstanding Promise Doctoral Award, conferred upon graduating doctoral students who are deemed to exhibit great promise in enhancing Drexel’s reputation in the future.
Davide is currently a Reader (Associate Professor) in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath in the UK. Davide’s research focuses on the fundamental discoveries in how to use nanotechnology to address environmental challenges, from developing novel membranes for clean water while at the same time minimizing energy consumption, to designing new catalyst materials to convert carbon dioxide in valuable chemicals, so there is an economic incentive to capture the carbon rather than release it into the atmosphere. Upon graduation in 2007, Davide was hired as a junior faculty member at the University of Bath and was promoted to the rank of Reader in 2013. Since the start of his academic career, he has been awarded over 20 research grants with total funding as a Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator of over £11M ($22M). In recognition of the impact of his research, Davide received a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship from 2010-2015 in the amount of £500,000 (roughly $1M). This is the most prestigious research fellowship awarded in the UK to early career researchers. In the area of technology transfer, a patent of Davide’s on new catalyst technology for the conversion of carbon dioxide to fuel has been recently licensed to a multinational company, which plans to bring the technology to market.
Michael is a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a fellowship dedicated to recent doctoral degree recipients of exceptional ability. During his PhD, Michael single-handedly discovered a large family of two-dimensional (2D) early transition metal carbides and nitrides, labeled MXenes, that have promising energy storage applications, including in ion batteries and supercapacitors. The second paper on Michael’s work in this area appeared in ACS Nano in 2012 and that paper was awarded the Ross Coffin Purdy Award for 2013 from the American Ceramic Society. This prestigious award is given to the author or authors who, in the judgment of the committee, made the most valuable contribution to the ceramic technical literature during the calendar year prior to the selection.
When asked what impact Drexel has had on their careers, both alumni indicate that both the doctoral program and their advisors greatly enhanced their experiences and research work. “Professor Yury Gogotsi not only gave me the opportunity to perform fantastic, cutting-edge research, but also the chance to develop all the other soft skills necessary to becoming an academic,” says Davide. “The dynamic and engaging environment in the department has been a constant stimulus to do more and better and has been essential to my development.” Says Michael, “Drexel provided an excellent doctoral program with excellent research capabilities. In addition, Drexel also provided outstanding advisors who encourage and support innovative ideas, and do their best to help young scientists thrive.” Both Davide and Michael indicate that they see themselves continuing to push the boundaries of cutting-edge research in their fields in the next five years and beyond.
Previous Drexel Materials alumni who were selected for the Forty Under Forty include Dr. Ranjan Dash (MBA/Ph.D. ’06, advisor: Yury Gogotsi) in 2013 and Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman in 2015 (MSE B.S. 2002, Ph.D. 2007; advisors: Michel Barsoum and Yury Gogotsi).