Advanced Energy Materials


Mahendra Sunkara, PhD

Mahendra Sunkara is the Director of Conn Center and Theme Leader for Advanced Energy Materials Theme. Dr. Sunkara received his B. Tech. degree in Chemical Engineering from Andhra University (India) in 1986, a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University in 1988, and a PhD  in 1993 from Case Western Reserve. He did his PhD under guidance of Prof. John Angus on chemical vapor deposition of diamond. He worked at Faraday Technology, Inc. in Dayton, OH, from 1993-1996 as a Project Engineer before joining UofL as an assistant professor in 1996.


His personal research interests include large single crystal growth of diamond, gallium nitride and bulk quantities of nanowires, solar cells, Li Ion batteries, and water splitting. He has published over 150 articles in refereed journals, four book chapters, and was awarded over 25 U.S. patents. He co-authored a book entitled “Inorganic Nanowires: Applications, Properties and Characterization” published by CRC Press. He was awarded the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty in Engineering award in 1999 and NSF CAREER award in 1999. In 2002, the Louisville Magazine placed him in the list of top 25 young guns in the city of Louisville. In 2009, he received the UofL President’s distinguished faculty award for research and United Phosphorus CDS Award from the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2009. He has been named as Fellow of Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation in 2017. His research work was cited about 8000 times with an h-index of 44. His work resulted in over twenty US patents. He graduated over 20 M.S/M.Eng and 20 PhD students who found successful careers in academia as faculty at institutions such as RPI, Texas A&M, U of Tulsa, IIT - Hyderabad and in Industry such as Intel, HP, Veeco, Applied Materials, and Lexmark, etc.

Adel Elmaghraby, PhD

Dr. Adel S. Elmaghraby is Professor and Department Chair of Computer Engineering and Computer Science in the JB Speed School of Engineering at UofL. He received his PhD and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BS degree from Alexandria University. He is a well-published author, a public speaker, member of editorial boards, and technical reviewer. Dr. Elmaghraby's research publications appear in books and in prestigious journals such as IEEE-TMI, IEEE TNN, Medical Physics, Neuroscience Methods, and Protein Engineering. Several professional organizations have recognized his achievements, including a Golden Core Member Award by the IEEE Computer Society. He is a Life Senior Member of the IEEE. He also served on both the IEEE-CS and the ACM awards committees. His volunteer activities include board membership in New Directions Housing Corp., the Interfaith Paths to Peace, and Chair of the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. He is an Honorary Kentucky Colonel and President of the Association of Egyptian American Scholars.

Hichem Frigui, PhD

Dr. Hichem Frigui specializes in Machine Learning, Big Data, Multimedia Data Analysis, Real Applications of Machine Learning and Materials Genome. He is an integral part of our advanced energy materials theme for statistical modeling and machine learning applied to materials and process discovery.

Badri Narayanan, PhD

Dr. Badri Narayanan joined the faculty of University of Louisville in August 2018. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering, and leads the Predictive Materials Modeling Laboratory (PMML). Previously, he held appointments at Argonne National Laboratory as Assistant Materials Scientist (2016-2018), and postdoctoral associate (2014-2016). He is the recipient of the Early Career High Impact Science Achievement Award from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2017), and K. K. Malik Graduate Excellence Award from Indian Institute of Science (2008). His research group is interested in gaining accurate molecular-level understanding of structure-property-processing relationships in functional materials, and reactive interfaces relevant for energy applications. The overarching theme of his research is to utilize such knowledge to computationally design next-generation materials, as well as identify routes to synthesize them. His current research projects include (a) electrolytes and electrolyte/electrode interfaces for Li-sulfur and Li-air batteries, (b) mechanics of self-assembled nanoparticle supercrystals, (c) synthesis routes, and engineering properties of 2D materials, (d) designing oxide electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution and oxygen reduction, and (e) structure-property-processing maps in advanced manufacturing. 


He earned Ph.D. in Materials Science from Colorado School of Mines, USA in 2013, a Master’s degree in Materials Engineering from Indian Institute of Science in 2008, and a Bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from National Institute of Technology Karnataka, India in 2006. 

Jacek Jasinski, PhD

Jacek Jasinski is a Research Scientist and the Materials Characterization Theme Leader at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. He earned his M.Sc. in Solid State Physics (1992) and doctorate in Physics of Semiconductors from Warsaw University (Poland) in 1997. He served as junior faculty at the Institute of Experimental Physics at the Warsaw University, Poland (1997-2000), Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Materials Science at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab (2000-2004), and Postdoctoral Researcher in Engineering at the University of California, Merced (2004-2005). Between 2005 and 2008, he was a Research Scientist in the School of Engineering at the University of California. In 2008, he joined the Institute for Advanced Materials and Renewable Energy at the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering as Chief Scientist. In 2009, Jacek was appointed Theme Leader in Materials Characterization at the Conn Center. He also oversees the Materials Characterization Service Center.

His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying physical properties, functionality, and durability of technologically important materials and device structures, especially for energy, catalysis, and nanotechnology applications. He co-authored over 180 original research papers in refereed journals, over 40 articles in refereed conference proceedings, and a book chapter in "Dilute III-V Nitride Semiconductors and Materials Systems." He is the guest editor of a special issue of ChemEngineering on Functional Materials for Renewable Energy Technologies. He serves also a reviewer for a number of journals, including Applied Physics Letters, Microscopy and Microanalysis, Catalysis Today, and Small Methods, and as a proposal reviewer for the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He is a co-organizer of scientific symposia and meetings such as Symposium K: Graphene and Graphene Nanocomposites at the 2014 MRS Fall Meeting, Symposium TC4 on Advances in Spatial, Energy and Time Resolution in Electron Microscopy at the 2016 MRS Fall Meeting, as well as biannual Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency (RE3) Workshops. Among his awards are the Foundation for Polish Science Award (1997) and the Polish Physical Society Award (1992).

Madhu Menon, PhD

Dr. Madhu Menon is a distinguished scientist specializing in computational materials science. His research has covered several areas of condensed matter theory and resulted in over 200 refereed publications so far. Some of the areas are: Molecular magnetism, nanoelectronics, electronic structure calculations (semiconductor solids, surfaces, and interfaces), mathematical physics and, quantum molecular dynamics. In the advanced energy materials theme, he utilizes molecular simulations and computations using density functional theory to predict band gap and optical properties of new compounds. He works closely with experimentalists to accelerate progress with both discovery and development of new materials for energy applications.

Gamini Sumanasekera, PhD

Dr. Sumanasekera is currently a Professor of Physics & Astronomy, acting Theme Leader for Energy Storage at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, and a University Scholar. His current research is focused on developing materials and processes for chemical energy storage and other renewable energy applications. His PhD is in experimental condensed matter Physics. He has served as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Physics at the University of Kentucky (1995-1999) and a Senior Research Associate at Pennsylvania State University (1999-2002). His research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation, and various industries. 

Gerold Willing, PhD

Gerold Willing is an Associate Professor in and the Associate Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Louisville. Dr. Willing has research interests in the development of complex fluid systems for practical applications and characterization of their stability. His was the first group to directly measure the interaction forces in complex fluids with a bimodal particle size distribution using the Atomic Force Microscope. Additionally, his group works on studying heat transfer fluids where the addition of nanomaterials can have a significant impact on the heat transfer capabilities of the fluid. His group’s work with Atomic Force Microscopy has also been a key component in a number of research projects throughout the Conn Center. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University.  Prior to joining UofL, he spent 3 years at Argonne National Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

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