Published: May 25, 2023 By

Three University of Colorado chemical engineering PhD students have earned 2023 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships (NDSEG).

Evan Flitz, Collin Sindt and and Noah Mulherin Smith each received the Department of Defense (DoD) award, which recognizes and supports promising young scientists and engineers. The award includes a three-year monthly stipend and full coverage of tuition, fees and insurance, along with a travel budget for professional development. 

This year the DoD awarded 165 individuals at 68 institutions nationwide, including nine from CU Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The NDSEG Fellowship program was established in 1989 by direction of congress as an approach to increasing the number of U.S. citizens receiving doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines of military importance. The DoD's objective through the NDSEG Fellowship and its mentorship program initiatives is "to propel talented individuals to the forefront of many discoveries and innovations relevant to the DoD; promote the growth of scientists/engineers within relevant DoD research disciplines; and support DoD science, engineering and technology innovations now and in the future."

You can read more about the students' research below.


The 2023 NDSEG Honorees

Evan Flitz

Advisors: Chunmei Ban and Mike Toney
Labs: Ban Group and Toney Group

The transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels is a necessity for the continued existence of modern society. As such, improved systems of renewable energy storage through electrochemical devices are required to meet these massive and growing demands. Among the potential solutions, beyond lithium batteries (BLBs) based on sodium (Na), Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), etc. are gaining significant traction due to mounting issues with ubiquitous lithium systems including supply chain frustrations, safety concerns, and performance limits. My research focus broadly is to develop high-performance battery materials for next-generation BLBs. Specifically, I am interested in the development of rationally-designed electrolytes that enable high energy density, long-life cycle batteries, while understanding the underlying bulk and interfacial chemistries that govern these performance metrics. By utilizing a synergistically computational and experimental effort in conjunction with advanced characterization techniques, I hope to establish foundational knowledge that unlocks the next generation of low-cost, highly effective energy storage solutions. 

Collin Sindt

Advisors: Seth Marder and Mike Toney
Labs: Toney Group and Marder Group

My research focus is on the use of self-assembled monolayers in electrode modification to improve the performance of thin film solar cell technologies including perovskites and organic photovoltaics. Self-assembled monolayers have been used for many applications to selectively modify surfaces and achieve consistent and controllable changes to functional characteristics like hydrophobicity, charge transfer, and chemical reactivity. Self-assembled monolayer use in solar cells has been shown to improve the power conversion efficiency and stability of these thin film technologies, however the exact reasons for these improvements have yet to be fully understood and optimized. I characterize both these materials and the solar cells fabricated with them to deconvolute their impacts on performance. The goal of my work is to better understand the mechanisms of performance improvement induced by these monolayers, allowing for more targeted optimization of these thin film materials to push them towards commercial viability. 

Noah Mulherin Smith

Advisors: Seth Marder and Timothy White
Labs: Marder Group and Responsive and Programmable Materials Group

My research focus is on the chiral-induced spin selective (CISS) effect in materials, whereby electrons are selectively transported through chiral materials based on their spin state. Understanding this phenomenon and how material properties change the CISS effect has the potential to deepen our understanding of chirality in nature such as in proteins and amino acids. Outside of a fundamental understanding of this process, these materials have the potential to be used in novel applications and energy research through spintronic devices, photodetectors, and other organic electronics.