Dr. Veronica Augustyn, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University, has received a Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, known as the NSF CAREER Award, is one of the highest honors given by NSF to young faculty members in science and engineering.
NSF will provide $517,000 in funding over five years to support her project, “Understanding Ion Transport in Solvated Layered Oxides for Electrochemical Energy Storage.” This research is supported by NSF’s Solid State & Materials Chemistry program in the Division of Materials Research.
Augustyn’s project aims to understand the electrochemical energy storage properties of layered metal oxides whose interlayers have been modified by water or other types of solvent molecules. Layered oxides are an important class of materials in electrochemical energy storage devices such as batteries and electrochemical capacitors, which power cell phones, electric vehicles and, increasingly, renewable power grids. Her research will lead to improved understanding of energy storage mechanisms as well as the design of new layered materials with better energy storage properties.
Another goal of her CAREER Award is to train students to work on global challenges across diverse cultures, highlight the societal impact of engineering to recruit and retain under-represented student groups and increase the global diversity of scientists and engineers. This will be accomplished via collaborations with universities in Uganda, and hands-on experiment kits and virtual teamwork to train students to work on diverse teams.
Augustyn’s research interests include materials for energy storage and conversion, electrochemical interfaces and solid-state chemistry
Her current research involves understanding materials at electrochemical interfaces during energy storage and conversion. In addition to the research sponsored by the CAREER award, current projects include the design of materials for high-energy-density and low-cost aqueous batteries, high power nanostructured electrode architectures, multivalent ion intercalation and electrocatalysis of the oxygen evolution reaction. This research is broadly motivated by the need for low-cost, long-lasting, and safe energy storage for sustainable power grids as well as better batteries for portable electronics.
Augustyn is also co-founder and faculty advisor of SciBridge, a nonprofit organization based at NC State that connects researchers in the United States and Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia around the area of renewable energy.
She received a B.S. degree from the University of Arizona and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, all in materials science & engineering. Her postdoctoral training was completed at the University of Texas at Austin.