Conn Center Staff
Mahendra Sunkara, PhD
Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
Distinguished University Scholar
Mahendra Sunkara, PhD, is the Director of the Conn Center, where he guides the Center’s research themes, growth, and operations.
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 earned 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.
Mahendra’s primary research is in the development of such renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as solar cells, lithium ion batteries, electrochromics, production of hydrogen from water, and process development for growing large crystals of diamond, gallium nitride, and bulk quantities of nanowires. 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 a 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 42. 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. He serves on the board of a publicly traded company, Karuturi Global and serves on the editorial boards of Nanotechnology and Nature Scientific Reports.
He founded Advanced Energy Materials, LLC (AdEM) in 2010 to commercialize his technology on scalable manufacturing of nanowire based materials for catalysts, batteries and absorbents. The company recently established commercial production facilities for advanced catalysts and adsorbents for removal of sulfur from diesel and fuels and hydrogenation applications around the world. He founded a IT training and consulting company, Indacle Software, Inc.in 1995, and established Chemener Batteries Ltd, a lead acid battery manufacturing unit in India.