Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Swanson School’s Gilbertson and Bedewy Win ORAU Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 6, 2017) … Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) selected University of Pittsburgh professors Mostafa Bedewy and Leanne Gilbertson as two of the 36 nationwide recipients of the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. The $5,000 awards will be matched by an equal amount from Pitt and enable both researchers to engage in research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.

ORAU is a consortium of 121-member universities whose mission is to form partnerships that enhance the national scientific research and education enterprise. The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards serve as new funding opportunities to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty.

Mostafa BedewyDr. Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering, is developing processes for controlling the growth of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes to tailor their properties for specific energy applications such as battery electrodes, thermal interfaces for high power density electronics, materials for tuned mechanical energy absorption, and electrical interconnects for 3D nanoelectronics.

“When we synthesize vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, or what we call ‘CNT forests,’ by chemical vapor deposition, billions of individual nanotubes grow simultaneously from substrate-bound catalyst nanoparticles. The size of each nanotube is one-ten-thousandth of the size of a human hair,” explained Dr. Bedewy. “Hence, controlling their interactions and population dynamics is crucial for tailoring their spatially varying properties. To advance our research on this topic, we are looking forward to using the pulsed chemical vapor deposition and in situ laser measurement capabilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.”

Pitt’s NanoProduct Lab, established and directed by Dr. Bedewy, conducts fundamental research combining experiments with modeling at the interface between nanoscience, biotechnology, and manufacturing engineering.  

“Our research in the broad area of advanced manufacturing at multiple length scales aims at impacting our societal needs in the crucial areas of energy, healthcare, and the environment,” Dr. Bedewy added.

Leanne GilberstonDr. Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received an award for her research proposal titled, “Simultaneous In Situ Characterization of Multiple Carbon Nanomaterial Properties Using Liquid Cell TEM-STEM at ORNL.” Building on her previous work on the importance of surface chemistry and the potential to manipulate reactivity of carbon nanomaterials (CNMs), she will aim to characterize CNMs in an experimental aqueous phase using in situ liquid and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) as well as scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

“Comprehensive nanomaterial characterization is essential to uncover nano-bio interactions in a way that can inform rational design. The current approach to characterization utilizes independent methods and oftentimes, the material is characterized under conditions different from the biological assay. Equipment at the ORNL facility will enable simultaneous multi-property characterization under experimental aqueous phase exposure conditions to capture the true nature of engineered nanomaterials and nano-bio interactions at high resolution,” explained Dr. Gilbertson.

Dr. Gilbertson’s research group at the University of Pittsburgh aims to inform sustainable design of existing and novel materials with an emphasis on precluding unintended consequences to the environment and human health while maintaining functional performance goals.

“I am honored to be recognized by ORAU for this award and am excited for the opportunity to visit ORNL. The funding will also support an invaluable experience for one of my graduate students to work with state of the art equipment at a national lab,” Gilbertson added.

About Dr. Bedewy
Dr. Bedewy became an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and established the NanoProduct Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in the Fall of 2016. He was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT in the area of bionanofabrication. Before that, he was a Postdoc at the MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, working on in situ environmental TEM characterization of catalytic nanostructure synthesis and interactions from 2013-2014. 

In 2013, Dr. Bedewy completed his PhD at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he worked on studying the population dynamics and the collective mechanochemical factors governing the growth and self-organization of nanofilaments. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Design and Production Engineering and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, both from Cairo University. 

About Dr. Gilbertson
Dr. Gilbertson became an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. She was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering from 2014 – 2015. 

In 2014, Dr. Gilbertson completed her PhD at Yale University, where she also received Master of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Education.

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Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer, 6/6/2017

Contact: Paul Kovach