Alumna Wins NSF-CAREER Award

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering alumna Pinar Akcora (Ph.D. '05), formerly advised by Fischell Department of Engineering Professor Peter Kofinas, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (NSF-CAREER) Award for a proposal titled "Multi-functional Particle Assemblies in Polymer Nanocomposites." The NSF-CAREER program supports the career development of outstanding junior faculty who most effectively integrate research and education within the goals and missions of their programs, departments, and schools.

Akcora, who is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri, will focus on the development of a simple synthesis and processing method to manufacture multi-functional nanomaterials for use in devices requiring enhanced mechanical and electrical properties. Akcora will explore new techniques for the self-assembly of magnetic nanoparticles that can be applied to self-healing membranes and composites with tunable properties. The results will have an impact on the design of new polymeric composites that could be stimuli-responsive like "smart materials," or the design of materials in which the conductivity and transduction properties change with the arrangement of the particles. The reversible self-assembly concept could also have profound applications in biocompatible materials, mechanical sensors, highly reinforced materials, and in new energetic materials.

Akora plans to integrate her research activities into the polymer science courses she teaches and will also actively engage undergraduate students in her research. Her program will provide training experiences for high school science teachers and offer them the opportunity to develop a collaborative science project for a high school science curriculum. She will also be working with the Society of Women Engineers on outreach activities designed to engage young women and other underrepresented students in science.

Published January 20, 2010