Author: C2E2 Faculty Inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE)

Two prestigious faculty members of the Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2) were inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) during the virtual 46th Annual CASE Meeting held on May 27, 2021. 

Dr. Jeffrey R. McCutcheon is a faculty member in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at UConn.  He joined the UConn School of Engineering in 2008, after receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2007. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Dupont Young Professor, FRI/John G. Kunesh Award, the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award, the Global Water Summit Water Technology Idol, and was selected as a semi-finalist in the American Made Challenges Solar Desalination Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2019, as an internationally recognized expert in membrane technologies for water treatment, Dr. McCutcheon was chosen to lead UConn’s participation in the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a research consortium awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues in the United States. During the pandemic, McCutcheon engaged in COVID relief activities including the development of an emergency ventilator for fast deployment, the compounding and distribution of 2500 bottles of hand sanitizers to retirement communities, food pantries, soup kitchens, and first responders, and established a mask testing capability for PPE performance evaluation.

Dr. Tianfeng Lu is a professor in Mechanical Engineering and member of C2E2.  Dr. Lu joined UConn as an Assistant Professor in 2008 after receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering.  His research focus is on computational combustion with special interests in reduced chemical kinetics, stiff chemical solvers, and computational diagnostics of laminar and turbulent flames. Dr. Lu was most recently recognized as one of the 2021 Class of Fellows for The Combustion Institute for his work on “The development of computationally efficient and accurate methods for the systematic, efficient and massive reduction of large reaction mechanisms.”

Maric - Photo

Dr. Radenka Maric, also of UConn, delivered the keynote address at the 46th Annual CASE Meeting.  Dr. Maric, a CASE member, is an entrepreneur and leading scientist at the University of Connecticut with experience in academia, industry, national labs, and federal agencies in the US, Japan, and Canada. Dr. Maric serves as the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship across all UConn campuses, including UConn Health. She is responsible for overseeing the University’s $280+ million annual research enterprise and its Technology Incubation Program. She presented on the “Connection between Nature and Scientific Discoveries”.

Election to CASE is on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence. CASE was chartered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1976 to provide expert guidance on science and technology to the people and to the state of Connecticut, and to promote the application of science and technology to human welfare and economic well-being. For more information about the Academy, please visit

Author: Novel Techniques in 3D Printing at UConn’s Tech Park

UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering’s faculty, Drs. SeungYeon Kang and Anson Ma, along with their colleagues, recently authored an article titled “Additive Manufacturing of Embedded Carbon Nanocomposite Structures with Multi-Material Digital Light Processing (MMDLP)".  The article will be published in an upcoming issue in the Journal of Materials Research.

Learn more.

CNT-filled Heterogeneous 4-layer Structure/ CNT-filled embedded rod in a simple cubic lattice

Author: Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon Advances to 3rd Competition Phase in the National Solar Desalination Contest

As reported by the Department of Energy in April 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $5 million in new funding for the second round of the American-Made Challenge: Solar Desalination Prize, a competition designed to accelerate the development of systems that use solar-thermal energy to purify water with very high salt content. Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon was one of eight semifinalists that will advance to the third competition phase.

Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon advanced to the third competition phate

Dr. McCutcheon’s team will integrate a newly developed ceramic membrane technology with a solar collector system to treat high-salinity or chemically complex brines. The ceramic membranes provide thermal and chemical stability that enable them to process challenging saline waters, operate at higher temperatures than existing polymeric membranes, and be more aggressively cleaned when fouled by scaling salts and organics. The team will be developing their pilot for deployment at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Water Treatment Plant in El Paso, Texas.

The teams selected to advance to the third phase will receive $250,000 in cash and a $100,000 voucher that can be redeemed at a National Laboratory and/or qualified partner facilities to design their systems.

We support and look forward to the next phase of this competition and wish Jeff and his team much success.  Should Jeff and his team advance to the fourth and final phase of the competition, he will be awarded a cash prize of $750,000 and another $100,000 voucher. The final phase teams will then build their systems, demonstrate their operation, and validate key performance metrics. At the end of the competition, DOE will determine the winner, who will receive a $1 million cash prize.

As reported by the Department of Energy in April 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $5 million in new funding for the second round of the American-Made Challenge: Solar Desalination Prize, a competition designed to accelerate the development of systems that use solar-thermal energy to purify water with very high salt content. Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon was one of eight semifinalists that will advance to the third competition phase.

Dr. McCutcheon’s team will integrate a newly developed ceramic membrane technology with a solar collector system to treat high-salinity or chemically complex brines. The ceramic membranes provide thermal and chemical stability that enable them to process challenging saline waters, operate at higher temperatures than existing polymeric membranes, and be more aggressively cleaned when fouled by scaling salts and organics. The team will be developing their pilot for deployment at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Water Treatment Plant in El Paso, Texas.

The teams selected to advance to the third phase will receive $250,000 in cash and a $100,000 voucher that can be redeemed at a National Laboratory and/or qualified partner facilities to design their systems.

We support and look forward to the next phase of this competition and wish Jeff and his team much success.  Should Jeff and his team advance to the fourth and final phase of the competition, he will be awarded a cash prize of $750,000 and another $100,000 voucher. The final phase teams will then build their systems, demonstrate their operation, and validate key performance metrics. At the end of the competition, DOE will determine the winner, who will receive a $1 million cash prize.

Author: C2E2 Hosts Seminar on “Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC)”

In April 2021, UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering hosted Dr. Reza Javaherdashti who presented an enriching seminar titled, “Management of Corrosion and Microbial Adhesion on Solar Panels” for UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering. Dr. Javaherdashti has more than 20 years of industrial and academic experience, and he has spent more than 5,000 hours teaching others about corrosion management and microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).

Dr. Javaherdashti’s seminar served as a training course to introduce the audience about corrosion and microbial adhesion on solar panels. He explained how corrosion and microbial adhesion build up over time, and how this negatively effects the efficiency of solar panels. Bacterial settlements is a serious issue and can cause up to an 11% decrease in efficiency in just 18 months. Furthermore, the annual costs of corrosion impacts all industries more than the annual costs of natural disasters, and estimated cost of losses due to soiling is $4 billion by 2022.

Thankfully, researchers such as Dr. Javaherdashti have been working to find solutions, such as anti-soiling coatings for the solar panels. There are several different kinds of coatings, and they can increase energy efficiency and help mitigate the effects of corrosion and microbial adhesion.

Author: PEARL Laboratory at the University of Connecticut

Dr. Ali Bazzi’s Power Electronics & Drives Advanced Research Laboratory (PEARL) is part of the Center for Clean Energy Engineering and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Connecticut.

The main research focus is on power electronics applications in electric motor drives, renewable energy systems, micro-grids, and the smart grid. Electric drives investigated cover a wide range of applications including plug-in, hybrid, and electric vehicles, and electric propulsion. Renewable energy integration is mainly focused on solar photovoltaics but covers several other areas. Efficiency, control, optimization, reliability, and real-time operation of most power electronic systems are of main interest. The lab has a very dynamic environment with several active research projects. New equipment is already up and running for various experiments.

Author: UConn STEAM Tree Project Featured at NSF’s Conference

UConn’s STEAM team’s project was featured as part of the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator Conference.  During her “Lightning Talk,” Dr. Jasna Jankovic, one of the members of the team, discusses the project and showcases the STEAM team in action.

For more information about the conference, visit


Author: Advanced Manufacturing in Energy Systems (AMES) Symposium – Inciting Change Through Research


In January of this year, students from the Advanced Manufacturing in Energy Systems Masters program (AMES) presented their research work to representatives from the Department of Energy’s Advance Manufacturing Office (DOE-AMO) as well as industrial partners who attended the AMES Symposium.  The symposium was a culmination of the AMES students’ hard work and research during their time in the program.  This was a special event to commemorate each student’s accomplishments in their field of energy research. Subject matter largely surrounded fuel cell technologies with sub-topics such as biomimicry and catalytic layering.  This program sponsored by a grant received from the DOE-AMO is designed to train a new generation of advanced manufacturing engineers to fill workforce needs across industry, national laboratories, and universities.

The guests from the Department of Energy were impressed by the student’s presentations with one DOE guest stating the symposium was “wonderful” and they “appreciate the opportunity to hear from the students and their amazing work”.  Another guest stated as being “thoroughly impressed and enjoyed seeing what the students are doing”.

The event was a true testament to the cutting-edge research that is being conducted at UConn’s Center for Clean Energy in the AMES Masters program. It was a rewarding experience for DOE and our industry partners to see how students’ research work is advancing new technologies and developing new ideas that impact the energy and manufacturing sectors.

Author: STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Margot Wentzel – Life after UConn

Margot Wentzel worked as an Administrative Specialist at UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2) up until graduation in May.  Margot has a very interesting background and found C2E2 through research with Professor Jasna Jankovic. She helped with the grant accounts and marketing but previously was an undergraduate researcher with a deep interest in biomimetic modelling in fuel cells.

Margot spent much of her childhood moving between South Africa and the United States until she and her family settled in Cape Town, South Africa when she was 11 years old. Margot then lived in Cape Town until she was 18 years old, at which point her family moved to the U.S. again and settled in Connecticut. Margot always knew that she wanted a tertiary education in the US where the learning opportunities are so vast and applied to UConn. Moving around so much made her want to be a part of a community and UConn provided just that.

Even though Margot speaks fondly of Cape Town and everything it means to her she also highlights how limited her education opportunities were. She attributes her major change to “not really knowing what was out there.” She enrolled as a Biomedical Engineering major but later realized that even though she loved research, she wanted to do equity research in the Finance industry.

Margot has always had a passion for the preservation of the environment and the different ways that could be achieved. Clean energy is something that Margot really emphasizes and believes that the clean energy revolution is what will save the environment. After being mentored by Professor Jankovic and learning so much about what clean energy technology is, Margot made her way to Wall Street for an Asset Management internship where she learned how powerful clean energy is on a corporate level. This truly served as a unifying turning point for Margot where all her interests truly meshed and she felt that she was where she was meant to be. Margot believes that through investment and Environmental, Social, and Governance, clean energy will become unstoppable and Wall Street thinks so too.

Margot’s technical background coupled with her investment knowledge helped her land her job at the investment company 337 Frontier Capital, where she will build financial models and valuations in order to pitch stocks based on growth over the next 10 years.

Margot has also recently adopted two puppies, pictured below. They have helped brighten her days during the busy school year. C2E2 wishes Margot good luck with all of her future endeavors!

Author: 9th World Hydrogen Technologies Convention and f-cell+HFC Event “Digital Edition” – June 20-24, 2021


Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the WHTC | f-cell+HFC organizing committee, I would like to personally invite you to join us at the 9th World Hydrogen Technologies Convention and f-cell+HFC Event “Digital Edition” from June 20-24, 2021. WHTC and f-cell+HFC feature innovative technologies and international markets – through three days of plenaries, keynotes, sessions, workshops, e-poster sessions and an international networking hub.

Please take a moment to review the attached documents: the Event Backgrounder and the Participation Opportunities.

The event website can be found here:

The program is online and Speakers can be seen on the website as well. You can subscribe to the Newsletters to receive weekly updates.

We hope that you will join us for this exciting event,

Jasna Jankovic|
On behalf of the WHTC Organizing Committee
Assistant Professor
Materials Science and Engineering Department

Follow the event on Social Media: Linkedin | Twitter @Hyfcell_Canada
and be part of the conversation with #WHTC2021.

Author: Five UConn Faculty Honored as Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors

The University of Connecticut has selected five of its most renowned scholars to honor with its most prestigious faculty title, the Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor.

Each year, the Office of the Provost seeks nominations from across UConn for the newest cohort of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors. Candidates must excel in all three areas of research, teaching, and public engagement. A committee of faculty is charged by the Provost’s Office to review and select each year’s honorees from among a competitive pool of nominees.

Honorees retain the title of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor throughout their career at UConn and also receive a $2,500 one-year stipend to be used by each recipient to further their professional activities. The number of available professorships each year is determined by the University by-laws. The Board of Trustees approved the latest cohort of honorees at its April 28 meeting.

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Author: UConn, School of Engineering Senior Design Demonstration Day – 2021


Great efforts by UConn’s School of Engineering – Class of 2021 on their capstone design projects.  Each year, more than 200 leading manufacturing companies, pharmaceutical and medical firms, consulting practices, utilities as well as local, state and federal government agencies partner with the UConn School of Engineering through Senior Design Projects.

These projects represent an entire year of intense academic and professional work and we are proud of the accomplishments they have made over the course of their programs.  Explore the amazing projects our seniors have worked on this year by visiting School of Engineering, Senior Design Demonstration Day – 2021Congratulations to all the teams!


Author: Assistant Professor SeungYeon Kang Joins UConn and C2E2

Dr. SeungYeon (Sally) Kang recently joined UConn as a tenure-track professor in Mechanical Engineering, as well as a faculty member at UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering. Dr. Kang is an accomplished scholar and valuable member of C2E2’s team. She grew up in Seoul, South Korea and moved to the United States to attend Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 2008. She moved on to graduate with her PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard University in 2014. She worked at Samsung in South Korea for 3 years but decided to return to academia and continue her postdoctoral research at Princeton University in 2017, after which she joined the University of Connecticut.

As a child, Dr. Kang was very curious and always asking questions to understand how things worked. She attended Gyeonggi Science High School in Korea, where she further curated her interest and went on to pursue an academic career in science and engineering.

Out of all of her options, Dr. Kang joined UConn as an Assistant Professor because Storrs provides a great balance between rural and city life, and she is used to the environment of New England from her time at Harvard University. Dr. Kang was also impressed by the UConn faculty being friendly and open, making her transition as a faculty member of the Center for Clean Energy Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering department easier.

When asked about her interest in clean energy research, Dr. Kang shared that clean energy is important, especially with issues such as global warming becoming more serious every day. “It is important to make more efficient use of energy, which eventually leads to reducing carbon emissions,” she says. “There is so much energy being wasted due to inefficient engineering processes and there also exists so much ambient energy around us that we are not making good use of, so research on various methods for energy efficient processes and energy harvesting becomes very interesting.”

Dr. Kang’s research is on two main topics: advanced laser materials processing and energy harvesting. For advanced laser materials processing, she is especially interested in utilizing ultrafast lasers to increase efficiency in laser micromachining processes and fabricating new types of 3D structures. “While regular lasers you may be familiar with are low in energy density and are continuous, these ultrafast lasers come out in very short pulses and have very high energy densities.” explains Dr. Kang. “Since the time duration of these pulses are so short, you can get very high energy density that’s even higher than the sun’s surface to cut metals, tissues, or other materials in a more effective manner without damaging the surrounding areas.”

The method of creating 3D structures through ultrafast laser nanofabrication is also different from anything done before because the resolution is so small. The scale of components that go into sensors or microchips must be minute, so nanofabrication is a good method to use. One particular application of this process is photonic devices including optical metamaterials which align well with the research Dr. Kang is looking to work on. With such a laser, very small structures can be designed in specific patterns to obtain engineered structures with new light propagating properties. This engineered path for light can help gather solar energy more effectively and enable unique light propagation that may even be recognized as invisible to the human eye.

Dr. Kang is also exploring a new phenomenon known as piezoelectrochemistry for energy harvesting, which when simply put, involves applying mechanical energy and getting an electrochemical response such as voltage out of it. Lithium-ion battery materials are known to undergo significant mechanical deformation during charging and discharging and therefore are good candidates for studying this effect. Her previous research in lithium-ion batteries at Samsung helped her to explore the effect further. “Understanding the coupling relationship between mechanical and electrochemical energy allows us to harvest otherwise wasted forms of mechanical energy via piezoelectrochemical materials,” says Dr. Kang. She feels that while these materials can be applied to microsensors as a source of small scale clean energy in a practical sense, in the future there could be ways to have these materials embedded in wearable devices and even possibly heavy machineries with repeating motions to harvest mechanical energy and store it more efficiently.

This year, she is looking forward to setting up her lab, which will be challenging with COVID-19 and equipment being delayed. She is looking forward to establishing a good research program for students to join and be able to collaborate with their peers. For Dr. Kang, the best part of performing research is that she can work with students, see them develop new ideas, and mentor them as they work on their research.

When asked what advice she would give to those interested in clean energy research, Dr. Kang recommended that “since there are so many new clean-energy related researches going on, following up with news on various technologies and understanding the clean energy industry is important to set up research goals.” She went on to emphasize the importance of keeping up to date with research articles, media and other interesting news updates in the industry to maintain fresh research content.

Author: UConn’s STEAM Team: Solar Trees and the Power of Community

By: Olivia Ortegon and Margot Wentzel

When one imagines solar power, the image that typically comes to mind is one of industrial, black or blue panels arranged in a formulaic, geometric pattern. Words that do not normally come to mind are those such as organic, natural, or even beautiful. But there is one team at UConn looking to change that.

Meet the “STEAM Team,” a team of individuals from departments of engineering, industrial design, biology and sociology.  Their goal is to build a solar powered tree that is both functional and engaging. Dr. Jasna Jankovic, who works in the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering as well as at the Center for Clean Energy Engineering, conceived the idea of putting a solar tree in the middle of campus, but it was put off as a passion project for some time—that is, until the opportunity arose for funding and a chance to pursue her idea. Dr. Jankovic met with Dr. Leslie Shor, the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, who suggested that she should apply for a UConn STEAM grant to fund her project (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Dr. Jankovic then partnered with Professor Chris Sancomb from Department of Art and Art History and recruited several other faculty at UConn including Dr. Cynthia Jones, Dr. Sung Yeul Park, and Dr. Stacy Maddern to write the project proposal and assemble the rest of their team.

Members of the STEAM team gather during a meeting in fall 2020.


The project officially started in May 2020, and began with more questions than answers. The team had to find ways to bring together all of their disciplines and visions to create a tangible structure. They began by asking, “How can art inform science, and vice versa?” The STEAM Team involves graduate, undergraduate and high school students of very diverse backgrounds.

“We all agree that we want to make the world a better place and that we can use technology to do it,” says Michelle Skowronek, one of the Urban and Community Studies members of the team. “We agree on the foundational aspect of the project—we want to make a nice place for people to enjoy their lives at.”

Elliot Romo Kurek, an undergraduate student working on the design side of the project, shared his thoughts on the team’s goal. “We hope to accomplish integration of sustainable energy into something beautiful, not brutish or ugly but rather making it a nice thing to be around. A lot of solar [energy] is not about that.”

The tree will be created with environmentally sensitive materials and have a unique organic design while still maintaining functionality and efficiency. It will have solar panels on its leaves that will directly power a battery within the tree. There will be power outlets for students to charge their phones and laptops, and there will also be lights underneath the tree’s leaves. The tree is intended to be over 12 feet tall, and will provide a convenient meeting place for students to sit outside and recharge. Ideally, there will be modular seating around the tree to create an atmosphere of relaxation mixed with learning. The team hopes to have a small solar-powered kiosk with an interactive technological tool to learn about the tree. The tree will be portable so that it can be moved to different areas on campus, effectively creating a dynamic environment and giving UConn students and faculty something exciting to look forward to as they look for where the tree moves next.

The main goal of this project is to raise awareness for clean energy sources and to teach others more about solar energy, as well as encourage a dialogue about our interactions with nature. The project epitomizes interdisciplinary learning among students and faculty alike. Professors and students from various disciplines can also use the tree for research and would be able to collaborate and perform their research together.

Dr. Cynthia Jones, advising the biology behind the tree, shared her perspective. “We want to add research potential to the project, including modules with different capacities for biological mimicry that can address questions about how sizes and shapes of leaves influence their function. We want there to be an educational aspect to the tree so that it is not just a static object in space, and we want to provide interpretation of the data output.”

Members of the team meet virtually once a week to discuss their ideas and share progress reports.

Members of the team meet virtually once a week to discuss their ideas and share progress reports.


Some challenges the team faced during their project included the obvious challenge of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, Dr. Jankovic and Professor Sancomb had envisioned everyone working closely together on an in-person collaboration. A pivot to virtual meetings made producing progress reports and actually building the tree challenging. The team meets once a week on line to discuss their progress and ideas, and they are still able to work together and contribute all of their ideas equally.

A digital model of what the tree could look like once it is on campus.

The essence of STEAM Tree is to bring people together across diverse disciplines and backgrounds, including students, professionals, general public and families, to learn and experience science and art in a holistic and natural way. This tree is the perfect tool to do so. Not only is it created through collaboration, but it can also continue to foster learning across many subjects at UConn, such as art & design, biology, engineering, and social sciences. The team hopes that the project will expand beyond just a few prototype trees to become a group of even larger trees—their end goal is to create an oasis on campus where people can get together and have lectures or hang out with friends. “We want to use this as a tool to find new approaches in education,” says Dr. Jankovic. “It’s important to have a space where people can get together and be immersed in learning, science, discussion, and diversity. We can all be present and in the moment together.” “Another goal is to develop a deeper understanding of interdisciplinary collaboration, and think of new way of facilitating that work in future endeavors, and teaching others how to do that in the future as well,” says CoPI Professor Christopher Sancomb, who works on the design and fabrication of the project. To this point, the project is also unique due to its application of sociological and collaborative artistic design ideas in the process of teaching others about scientific and technological aspects of solar power

There has already been a great deal of learning achieved among the members of the STEAM team, from the high school level to the faculty and professors. Kai Vestergaard, a senior in high school working on the design team states, “It’s a new experience. I haven’t been on this type of team before where there’s professionals from all different types of departments and we work on making prototypes, doing research, and the actual fabrication [of the project].” 

Dar Jankovic, another high school student on the team, shares, “Being on the team opens up a lot of opportunities. You get to learn a lot of new experiences including what to study in college if you decide to go. Participating in this project provides a lot for you.” 

Dr. Stacy Maddern, professor of Urban and Community Studies, shared his thoughts about the future impact of the project. “It’s a great service learning model. I think that when you have a way in which people can learn from each other, learning through doing is the future of education. When you can create a model with a focus on STEM but then include humanities in it as well, this is an excellent model for how service learning can go on. It tears down the walls of the classroom. Everybody’s glass is half full here, and it demonstrates what possibilities can come from communities.”

See below for bios of the STEAM Team.

Dr. Jasna Jankovic is an Assistant Professor at the Materials Science and Engineering Department, and is part of C2E2 faculty focusing on clean energy solutions. She initiated the idea of the STEAM Tree to attract faculty and students of interdisciplinary backgrounds to clean energy and sustainable solutions.

Professor Chris Sancomb is an Assistant Professor in the new Industrial Design program in the School of Fine Arts with a research focus of designing socially interactive exhibits and environments. He joined the STEAM Tree project as Co-PI to explore ways design could facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, and to develop an artistic clean energy installation that is accessible to the public.

Dr. Cynthia Jones is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology who studies leaf shapes and plant architectures from an evolutionary and functional perspective. 

Dr. Sung Yeul Park is an Associate Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and is part of C2E2 faculty focusing on renewable energy integrations. He joined the STEAM Tree as senior personnel, and his role is to consult electrical design and interface solutions.

Dr. Stacy W. M​​​addern began teaching at UConn as an adjunct professor in 2014 and has recently joined the full-time faculty in Urban and Community Studies. He has previously taught at New York University, the University of Hartford, and Central Connecticut State University. His scholarly interests include community theory, social capital, citizen engagement, organizational theory, urban social movements, and the history of education Dr. Maddern will focus on studying the social interactions around the STEAM Tree. 

Members of the STEAM team social distance on campus to draft their first design ideas for the project.

Andela Stefanovic is a junior majoring in Computer Science and Engineering with minors in Astrophysics and Human Rights. She works under Materials Science and Engineering Department on this project, on modelling solar cells, while also being part of the design work group and social media team.

Clayton Ehasz is an alumnus of the University of Connecticut, and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in December 2020. He participated in the design of the STEAM Tree, focusing primarily on the electrical systems.


Dar Jankovic is a student at Edwin O. Smith Highschool. He works with the Design Team in the STEAM Tree project and helps with contributing ideas to the group.

Elliot Romo Kurek is a fourth-year BFA Student with a focus in Sculpture and Ceramics. His background lies in fabrication and small batch production in materials including Wood, Ceramics, and Metal. 

Kai Vestergaard is a senior high school student at Glastonbury High School. He is part of the design team and is interested in finding ways to make solar energy more appealing.

Kevin Knowles is a junior in electrical engineering with interests in PCB design, RF, and the internet of things. When he’s not working on electronics for school, he enjoys amateur radio, camping, astronomy, and photography.

Michelle Skowronek is an Urban & Community Studies Major who is currently in the fast track program for a Master in Public Administration with a focus on Urban Planning. Michelle examines the design process of the STEAM tree so that It fosters inclusivity, equality and sustainability within the community. Michelle uses biomimetic, circular city and new urbanist principles as a basis for her approach.

Naime Gilani is a second-year undergraduate student studying Biological Sciences. Her goal is to one day work as a Public Health professional. In working on the STEAM Tree, she hopes to establish a more forward-thinking and environmentally conscious culture at UConn that emphasizes the importance of the environment on our health.

Noorpreet Kaur is a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department and a member of the Arboretum Committee at UConn. She enjoys walking in nature and is interested in developing clean energy resources to mitigate the climate change.

Pablo Zarama is a Materials Science and Engineering Major from the class of 2023, and is passionate about all things STEM related. Pablo is working under Dr. Jankovic in the STEAM Tree project.

Raisa Vazquez is a junior in the school of Fine Arts’ individualized major program with a focus on industrial design. She is one of the students on the design team for the STEAM Tree. 

Vuk Jankovic is a student at the University of Connecticut in his freshman year. He is working towards his undergraduate degree in Psychological Sciences. He joined the STEAM tree group because he became interested in clean energy and it is a great educational experience.

Author: C2E2 Hosts seminar on “Purpose” on a Professional and Personal Level

C2E2 hosted Dr. Ripi Singh for a seminar on “Purpose” on a professional and personal level. The audience consisted of professors and students who are affiliated with the UConn Center for Clean Energy. The seminar reminded the audience of their purpose with questions like why did you decide to do this research? Why did you decide to work at C2E2?

Dr. Singh illustrated sustainability in our lives on different segmented levels such as Business, technology, society and planetary scale. Understanding the differences and how each step matters is such an integral part in taking the right step into a greener world. “There is no planet B”, as Dr. Singh zealously emphasized. Even though we have stepped into an era where there is a greater effort to focus on sustainability, Dr. Singh reminded everyone that we cannot improve until our purpose is clear and genuine.

There is a clear unification between different sectors to decrease emissions and save our planet. With initiatives like Environmental, Social, and Corporative Governance (ESG) investing, even Wall Street is in on it. Dr. Singh spoke about how we all must continue this in our professional and personal life. We must not place ourselves in boxes as researchers, scientists and business aficionados. We must remember our purpose. We must not simply show up, we must study and act with purpose. Doing this, together we can build a greener and brighter future.

More on this topic at the blog post –,  the book , and the video

Author: UConn-Technion Collaboration Develops Model for Affordable Fuel Cell Catalysts

UConn researchers and collaborators at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology developed a theoretical model that will expediate the development of affordable fuel cells.

Radenka Maric, UConn’s vice president for research, innovation and entrepreneurship; Dario Dekel from Technion’s Chemical Engineering Department; S. Pamir Alpay, UConn’s associate dean for research and industrial partnerships; and Sanjubala Sahoo, a research scientist in Alpay’s group published their findings in ACS Catalysis in February.

The model analyzed the electronic structure and associated functional properties of a palladium-ceria catalyst for the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR), a critical process in clean energy conversion.

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Author: Three Engineering Faculty, Eight Others Named As Inductees to CT Academy of Science and Engineering

Nine University of Connecticut faculty were announced as inductees into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) for 2021, including UConn Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carl Lejuez.

CASE, which was chartered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1976, provides expert guidance to the state of Connecticut and promotes the application of science and technology towards issues of economic well-being and human welfare.

This year, CASE elected 32 new fellows, drawn from both industry and academia. Election to the Academy is based on the applicant’s scientific and engineering distinction, achieved through significant contributions in the form of publications, patents, outstanding leadership, and other factors.

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Author: Dr. Radenka Maric publishes new book

UConn Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Radenka Maric has just released a new book with co-author Gholamreza Mirshekari.  This book is a valuable resource for beginners as well as for experienced researchers and developer of solid oxide fuel cells.  All proceeds from sales of the book will support students through scholarships.   For more information visit CRC Press

Author: Graduate Student’s Research Aids Green Technology Revolution

MSE graduate student Richard Andres Ortiz Godoy is hoping his research can be part of the effort to liberate society from fossil fuels. His research focuses on fuel cells, which provide an efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly next-generation energy alternative. Such prospects, however, wouldn’t be possible without access to the advanced research facilities, faculty expertise and dedicated technical staff available to him as a student in the MSE graduate program.

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Author: Dr. Jasna Jankovic receives NSF CAREER Award

Jansna Jankovic - photoProfessor Jasna Jankovic, both an esteemed Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and a core faculty member at the Center for Clean Energy Engineering, has recently received one of the most prestigious awards for new faculty. On December 21st, 2020, she was granted the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, for her project “Understanding Degradation Mechanisms in Sustainable Energy Electrochemical Systems Using Advanced Characterization Approaches.” This award, as stated by the NSF, supports early-career faculty who have much promise to be academic role models in research and education, and to be leaders for the mission of their department. As she was granted the award just in time for the winter holidays, Professor Jankovic celebrated virtually with her students, as seen below.

C2E2 congratulates Professor Jankovic on her achievement!


Author: Sun and Sea: UConn Professor Advances in National Solar Desalination Contest

University of Connecticut professor of Chemical & Biomolecular engineering Jeff McCutcheon is a quarter finalist in the American-Made Challenges: Solar Desalination Prize administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

High salinity brines from oil and gas production, mining and industrial wastewaters are challenging to treat with conventional desalination technologies. Scientists have been working on various techniques to use solar energy to drive desalination processes.

“A real opportunity for solar thermal distillation technology is in the treatment of brines that are not treatable by conventional desalination technologies, like reverse osmosis,” McCutcheon says.

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Author: Energy Department Releases its Hydrogen Program Plan



November 12, 2020

Energy Department Releases its Hydrogen Program Plan

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Hydrogen Program Plan to provide a strategic framework for the Department’s hydrogen research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities.

The DOE Hydrogen Program is a coordinated Departmental effort to advance the affordable production, transport, storage, and use of hydrogen across different sectors of the economy.  The Plan involves participation from the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Fossil Energy (FE), Nuclear Energy, Electricity, Science, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy.

“Hydrogen has the potential to integrate our nation’s energy resources. To fully recognize hydrogen’s potential across the economy, we need to see a significant increase in hydrogen supply and demand, and we need to lower costs,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “EERE is excited by the Department-wide efforts and collaborations outlined in this Plan to cement hydrogen’s place among our energy options.”

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Author: International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy – Student Infographic Challenge 2020

Dear students,

On behalf of the UConn Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2) and in preparation for the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day (08/10), we invite you to submit your Infographic designs about hydrogen and fuel cells. C2E2 is encouraging you to participate in this challenge, and offering prizes to winning entities (including cash and travel support) and technical support in preparation of the designs. Please, submit them to both to for IPHE competition and to Only the designs submitted to both C2E2 and IPHE are eligible for the C2E2 awards. Please see the attached flyer for more details. Deadline – Oct 8, 2020.  Learn more.

The Challenge: Are you a student looking to learn more about hydrogen and fuel cells? IPHE wants to hear from you! Don’t miss out on this chance to apply your research and creative design skills to learn more about the world of hydrogen and win a cash prize.

As part of the IPHE Student Infographic Challenge, participants will research, interpret, and create a succinct, engaging infographic about a topic related to hydrogen and fuel cells. Through this challenge, students gain foundational knowledge about the field of hydrogen and fuel cells, develop research and design skills, and explore their creativity. This challenge provides a great opportunity to learn about this important field of energy research in a fun, engaging way. It also offers you the chance to expand your portfolio, connect with other students and professionals, and work alongside the next generation of hydrogen and fuel cell advocates, scientists, and engineers.

Who Can Enter: Secondary- (ages ~13 to 18) and university-level students from IPHE member countries are eligible to enter. Each pool of applicants will be judged separately. Students may work alone or in groups of 2-4.

Submission Details: Infographics are an important tool for delivering information in a quick, accessible, and visually appealing format for all audiences. The combination of text and visuals can serve a variety of purposes, from constructing an engaging narrative to expressing dense or technical information in a concise, straightforward way.

Students will research and design an infographic that is suitable for a public audience and is related to hydrogen and fuel cells in some way. Some possible topic areas include:

  • Basics of hydrogen and fuel cells
  • International status of hydrogen & fuel cells
  • Status of hydrogen & fuel cells within student’s or team’s home country
  • Hydrogen and fuel cell applications
  • Current field research
  • History of fuel cell technology development
  • Hydrogen safety

How to Submit: Participants will email their completed infographics to and with the subject line “IPHE Infographic Challenge Submission.” Your infographic should be in English, submitted as a high-resolution PNG, PDF or JPEG file and labeled as follows: “Country name_institutionname_last name.” Please note that submitting a version of the infographic in your native language is optional and will not impact judging or selection decisions.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Thank you and we look forward to your submissions!!!

Jasna Jankovic, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Materials Science and Engineering Department
University of Connecticut
O: (860) 486-6496
M: (860) 617-8798

Author: UConn Researchers Receive Patent for Diabetes-Sensing Breathalyzer

UConn researcher and vice president for researcher, Radenka Maric, and a former graduate student Rishabh Jain were recently issued a patent for a breath sensor able to detect chemical compounds that are markers for various chronic diseases.

Human breath is primarily composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water vapor. But there are traces of more than 200 other chemicals that are the product of the body’s metabolism. Even minute deviations from normal concentrations of these chemicals are often biomarkers for the onset of disease. These compounds can indicate the presence of diabetes, liver diseases, breast cancer, schizophrenia, cystic fibrosis, and many other diseases.

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Author: UConn and Technion Collaborate on the Development of Next Generation Fuel Cells

Radenka Maric, UConn’s vice president for research, innovation and entrepreneurship, Dario Dekel from Technion’s Chemical Engineering Department and S. Pamir Alpay, UConn’s associate dean for research and industrial partnerships are working on advanced concepts that will provide novel solutions in catalysis and energy research.

UConn and Technion have had a relationship for two years under the UConn-Technion Energy Collaboration Initiative, which enables the exchange of faculty and students between the two schools for presentations and collaboration on research. The partnership was facilitated by UConn’s Office of Global Affairs.

This initiative became the base for UConn and Technion to collaborate on several topics associated with the development of new materials and approaches to reduce precious metal content in anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs). These cells are remarkably efficient, but they are also expensive to manufacture right now.

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Author: City Council And UConn Lend A Hand To West Haven Community House

WEST HAVEN, CT — Members of the West Haven City Council this week presented West Haven Community House (WHCH) Executive Director, Patricia Stevens, and Board of Directors President, William Heffernan III, “UConn Nation” hand sanitizers for the nonprofit organization’s Community Connections program.

The city’s donation was made possible by University of Connecticut doctoral students and Councilman Barry Lee Cohen, R-10, on behalf of the Connecticut Center for Applied Separations Technologies (CAST) and the UConn Department of Chemical Engineering. Joining Cohen for the presentation was fellow WHCH Board of Directors member, Councilwoman Elizabeth Johnston, D-3.

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