ND Energy Selects Nine Undergraduate Students to Receive Vincent P. Slatt Fellowships

Nde 2024 Slatt Scholars H 05

The Center for Sustainable Energy (ND Energy) at the University of Notre Dame has selected nine undergraduate students from a pool of outstanding applicants to each receive a Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship in Undergraduate Research in Energy Systems and Processes. These students represent a vibrant community of young scholars whose focus is on finding sustainable and practical solutions to today’s energy challenges through research and discovery.

Since 2006, 250 undergraduate students at Notre Dame and from minority-serving institutions have received Slatt Fellowships through the generosity of Christopher ’80 and Jeanine Slatt in honor of Vincent P. Slatt, Notre Dame Class of 1943. These students have contributed greatly to advancing energy-related research and other scholarly endeavors. Many of them have presented their research projects at national conferences and have either authored or co-authored journal articles, published in the top, peer-reviewed journals in the country.

Undergraduate students can apply for Slatt Fellowships twice annually – once in the fall for academic-year semester awards of up to $2,500 and in the spring for summer research awards of up to $8,500. Students interested in conducting full-time, energy-related research over a 10-week period this summer at Notre Dame can apply for a summer Slatt Fellowship now through February 28, 2024.

Below are the Slatt scholars selected from the fall pool of applicants for spring-semester and summer awards with a brief description of their research projects and statements on how this research experience supports their future career goals. Please join ND Energy in congratulating these outstanding students on this exceptional achievement.

Spring-Semester Awards

Elliot Como ‘24

Crosslinking of PIM-1 with Macrocyclic Crosslinker for Physical Aging Resistance
Polymer-based membranes for gas separations represent a great opportunity for reducing cost, energy usage, and CO2 emissions in chemical separation processes. This research project aims to test different structures in PIM-1 Membranes to attempt to increase the useful life of the membrane.

Elliot will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Ruilan Guo, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is majoring in chemical engineering with minors in engineering corporate practice and energy studies. After graduation, Elliot plans to work as an associate scientist at Proctor & Gamble where this research experience will help him meet the challenges of finding sustainable solutions.

Sean Egan '25

Flow and Turbulence Characteristics at Hub Height for Offshore Wind Energy Production
The purpose of this research project focuses on gaining a better understanding of the range of conditions (i.e. wind speeds and turbulence levels) expected for offshore wind turbines. This information is important for turbine designers to lower production costs and for making offshore wind a more reliable and clean energy solution, even under strong and variable wind conditions.

Sean will conduct his research project in the laboratory of David Richter, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences. A major in mechanical engineering with a minor in energy studies, Sean is eager to experience research in a laboratory and gain additional knowledge about renewables before applying for internships and eventually industry jobs in the future.

Matthew LaCapra ‘25

Diffusion of Methane and CO2 in CuBTC and IRMOF 1
This research project focuses on studying chemicals called Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and using molecular dynamics programs and a machine learning model to find the rate at which carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases spread through them. This work is important for understanding how to capture greenhouse gases and decarbonize the energy industry.

Matthew will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Yamil J. Colón, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. He is a chemical engineering major with minors in energy studies and bioengineering. Matthew intends to use his new skills in chemistry and computational processes and knowledge of machine learning to help get energy to more people, more efficiently and sustainably, in the future.

Quinn Mackay '24

Heavy Metal Pollution, Water Quality, and Land Use Change Analysis along the Little East Arm Calumet Watershed
Coal burning is notorious for emitting high levels of heavy metal pollution into the environment that poses significant threat to human and ecological populations. This research project seeks to quantify the extent of heavy metal pollution in the East Little Calumet Watershed and, in collaboration with local nonprofit Shirley Heinze Land Trust, develop outreach-based education for citizens in the region.

Quinn will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Jeremy Fein, professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences. Quinn is an environmental science major with a concentration in earth sciences and a minor in energy studies. He is currently applying to graduate schools and wants to be involved in outreach-based science during and after his doctorate program. This project will give Quinn the experience necessary to advance his abilities in leading and directing research projects, while improving his skills to interact with members of various communities.

Josiah Miller '25

Development of Thin Film Deposition for Hybrid Molybdenum and Tungsten Bronzes
This research project aims to make thin films of hybrid bronzes for applications like batteries and solar panels to be more energy efficient through the installation of this material platform.

Josiah will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Adam Jaffe, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Josiah is majoring in chemistry with a minor in accounting and is passionate about finding innovative solutions to the problems caused by increased energy consumption. This research will provide an opportunity for him to contribute to new energy systems and solutions, which is what he hopes to do after completing graduate school.

Gayoung (Bona) Park '25

Hydrostatic Pressure-Powered Underwater Soft Growing Robot with Steering and Buoyancy Control Mechanism
This research project focuses on developing an underwater soft-growing robot tailored for surveying delicate marine species such as coral reefs and mangroves. This project will prioritize manual operation via hydrostatic pressure, eschewing electronic components to enhance energy efficiency and ensure human safety.

Bona will conduct her research project in the laboratory of Margaret Coad, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering. She is majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in control and mechanical systems and a minor in energy studies. This research experience significantly aligns with her career aspirations, particularly in the field of marine/underwater robotics, as she plans to pursue graduate studies in this area. This project will also help Bona learn essential skills in project preparation, data analysis, and various other aspects critical to conducting meaningful research.

Bennett Schmitt '25

Investigating Rare Earth Element Mineralization within Fenite Alteration Zones Using Isotopic Analysis
Rare Earth Elements (REEs) play a critical role in the expansion of clean energy technology, specifically in the development of next generation energy storage devices. This research project seeks to investigate the mechanisms underlying the extreme REE enrichment observed in fenites—rocks that have been chemically altered by the intrusion of carbonatite (carbonate-rich) magma. By juxtaposing mineralogical, chemical, and isotopic investigations of fenites and their associated carbonatites, this project will provide novel insight into the elemental nature of these largely unexplored alteration zones, elucidate a path for more sustainable and efficient production of clean energy technologies, and advance energy storage capabilities.

Bennett will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Antonio Simonetti, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences. Bennett is working on dual majors in environmental sciences and applied and computational mathematics and statistics with a minor in energy studies. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately a career that employs geochemistry as an avenue for addressing the modern energy and climate crises. Through this research experience, he will build upon his developing laboratory and research skills and cultivate a strong foundation in geochemical and energy-related research that will allow him to effectuate an impactful future of study and work in this area.

Katherine Zinkan '25

Polymers in Next-Generation Rechargeable Batteries
This research project aims to improve the rechargeability of lithium-sulfur batteries – an energy storage system. Lithium-sulfur batteries are important to the future of energy and especially in utilizing energy storage for electric vehicles and enabling the transition away from fossil fuel powered vehicles.

Katherine will conduct her research project in the laboratory of Jennifer Schaefer, Sheehan Family Collegiate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Katherine is majoring in chemical engineering with a concentration in bioengineering and minors in energy studies, poverty studies, and engineering corporate practice. She is passionate about renewable energy and the energy transition, and especially wants to improve energy storage, as she hopes to work in this area after graduation. This research experience will help Katherine gain additional knowledge and understanding about the field, while improving her critical thinking skills and laboratory techniques.

Summer Award

Victor Williams '25

Ink-Jet Printing of CeO2 and Eu2O3 Thin Films for Nuclear Energy Applications and Nuclear Physics Measurements
This research project aims to develop the capabilities of microdispensing ink jet printing to create uniform thin films of Eu2O3 and CeO2 for nuclear energy applications and nuclear physics measurements.

Victor will conduct his research project in the laboratory of Khachatur Manukyan, associate research professor of physics and astronomy. Victor is pursuing dual majors in physics and music with a concentration in theory. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics or materials science. This full-time summer research experience will give Victor valuable hands-on experience and the ability to accomplish more in the laboratory, which will help him better prepare for the transition away from classwork to a greater focus on research when in graduate school.

About Student Research Fellowships in Sustainable Energy 
ND Energy offers competitive fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students to support advancements in energy-related research with ND Energy faculty affiliates and to broaden the educational knowledge and research capabilities of students. This includes the Patrick ’90 and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research, the John Forgash ’00 Fellowship for Solar Energy Research, and the Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship for Undergraduate Research in Energy Systems and Processes.

About ND Energy
ND Energy is a University Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing the world today. For more information, please visit the ND Energy website at energy.nd.edu or contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at bvillaro@nd.edu or 574-631-4776.