Mental Health Counseling for Students – The College of Engineering

The threat of a deadly virus, virtual classes, isolation. In these trying times, it’s especially difficult to be a college student.

Which is why the University of Utah College of Engineering has employed an in-house mental health counselor to help you navigate through what is sure to be a challenging school year.

Jiabao Gao, LMHC, LPC, CMHC, (pictured, right) is a highly trained counselor and therapist who has worked at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Philadelphia School of Psychoanalysis, Aspire Health Alliance, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has a Master of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Counseling.

Gao now provides services including brief individual and couple counseling, support group/group therapy, drop-in consultation, workshop/outreach, and assistance with referrals. He can meet with students who are suffering from a variety of issues such as anxiety, depression, academic concerns, self-esteem, social anxiety, and loneliness.

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GERALD STRINGFELLOW’S BRIGHT IDEA

The National Academy of Inventors has released a new video about the legacy of Gerald Stringfellow, University of Utah Distinguished Professor of both electrical and computer engineering and materials science and engineering.

The new video, “From Campus to Commerce,” profiles Stringfellow’s contributions to the development of light-emitting diodes, a technology that would benefit everything that uses LEDs from traffic lights to computer monitors.

Stringfellow developed a process called organometallic vapor-phase epitaxy for the growth of new semiconductor alloys in which aluminum, gallium, indium and phosphorous are deposited on a substrate to create red, orange, yellow and green LED crystals. This led to better handheld calculators that used red LEDs for the display. Stringfellow took his research to the University of Utah where he was hired as a professor in 1980. He made major conceptual advances in the field and would later publish a book on the process that has now become the bible for the science of growing LED crystals.

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Sara J. Wilson recognized for contributions to department and university

SALT LAKE CITY — Sara J. Wilson, Administrative Manager for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, was recognized for her excellence in contributions to the department and university with a 2019 Academic and Student Affairs District Staff Excellence Award. She received this award in a ceremony held on Wednesday, August 21st at the Thomas S. Monson Center.

Sara has served as the Administrative Manager for the Department of Metallurgical Engineering since 2014 and has taken the role of Administrative Manager over the Materials Science & Engineering graduate program effective this July. Sara has been an invaluable member of the departments, working extremely well with students, faculty, and staff.

Prof. Michael Simpson, former metallurgy chair and current MSE chair, praised Sara at the ceremony for her dedication to the department and ability to effectively manage it. Sara will play an instrumental role as we work tirelessly to merge the former metallurgical engineering department in with MSE.

Feng Liu

Liu recognized with Faculty Award

Congratulations to University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Cynthia Furse and materials science and engineering chair Feng Liu for receiving the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award, respectively.

Both were recognized with the campus-wide honors during the 150th annual University of Utah Commencement as well as the College of Engineering’s convocation on May 3.

Feng Liu — Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award

Since joining University of Utah in 2000, Prof. Feng Liu has developed into one of the world’s leading experts in the fields of surface science and epitaxial growth of thin films, and the theory of nanostructures, graphene and topological materials. He won the prestigious Senior Humboldt Award in 2008 citing: “His work pioneered our understanding of the atomistic mechanisms underlying epitaxial growth of thin films and semiconductor nanostructures.” In 2011, Prof. Liu was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, based on: “His contribution to theory of nanostructures and strain-induced nanoscale Self-assembly.” “In recent years, he pioneered the fields of organic and surface-based topological materials,” said one nominator. “Prof. Liu has been running an active and well-funded research program which has become one of the largest in the College of Engineering (the group reached 20 people at one point). His research has been steadily supported by federal agencies (DOE, NSF and DOD), the State of Utah and industry. He is among the few people who has been simultaneously funded for two separate DOE-BES core programs, ‘Materials Synthesis and Processing’ and ‘Physical behavior of Materials’ (funded continuously so far for 20 years with an annual budget of $300K).”

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Remembering Raj Rajamani

Remembering Raj Rajamani 

It is with deep sadness we share with you the news of the sudden passing away of our beloved and distinguished colleague and friend, Professor Raj K. Rajamani on the late evening of Thursday, Aug 12. Raj, as he is affectionately called, was an outstanding intellectual mind. He was a highly skilled scientist, an excellent engineer, a dedicated philanthropist, and above all, one of the nicest, compassionate, thoughtful, and humble persons.  Raj was a cornerstone of our Metallurgical Engineering program at the University of Utah for more than 40 years and will be greatly missed by his colleagues in the department and in our professional community.

Raj received his Ph.D. at the University of Utah and joined the Metallurgical Engineering faculty in 1979. As a faculty member for more than four decades, he was an excellent teacher and a creative researcher, and he made several significant contributions in comminution, hydrocyclone classification, and was the inventor of a new eddy current separation technology.

Raj was the pioneer in the application of the “Discrete Element Method” in the modeling of charge motion in tumbling mills and lifter design for Ag/SAG and Ball mills. He made great contributions to the computational fluid dynamics modeling of hydrocyclones and pulp lifters of tumbling mills. Notably, his research on the fundamental understanding of grinding efficiencies of overflow and grate discharge ball mills was successfully applied in the industry. He developed the first DEM code for mills called “Millsoft” in the early 1990s which led a revolution in the use of simulations for mining. In 2013 he took this further by applying the latest GPU technology with the Blaze-DEM software. In July 2021 the DEM team that he was leading received an NVIDIA inception start-up award for work on advancing automation in milling.

Most recently, his successful research included contributions on high pressure grinding and ground-breaking innovations in electrodynamic sorting (EDX) of light metals and alloys that has attracted worldwide attention and several million dollars in funding from ARPA-e/DOE.  EDXTM technology for electrodynamic sorting of metals now being commercialized was his most personally satisfying contribution to society as it addressed the recycling of our key metal resources.  Raj supervised the research of more than 30 graduate students over his career and was recognized for his contributions to our profession with the Antoine M. Gaudin Award presented by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) in February 2009. The citation for his award was, “For his seminal work in the application of discrete element methods in the modeling of charge motion in semi-autogenous and ball mill grinding, and for his contribution to the basic science of comminution and classification.” Other awards include the SAG High Flyer Award in 2001 for outstanding contributions toward the development of autogenous and semi-autogenous grinding technology, the 1995 Mellow Met Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Department of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Utah, and the 2018 Utah Innovations Award in recognition of Electrodynamic Sorting of Light Metals and Alloys (EDX). Raj made many contributions to our profession and had a great career at the University of Utah. We will dearly miss our special friend and wonderful colleague.

Whether it was metallurgy, tennis, art, or the Buddhist philosophical tradition, Raj was incredibly passionate and disciplined about mastering any endeavors he took on. Above all, his family was the center of his universe, and his contributions there far outweigh all others. As we mourn his loss, we keep Raj’s wife Sudha, and two daughters Preetha and Vidya in our thoughts.

We are in touch with the family to plan a “Celebration of Raj’s Life” event. We will share information as appropriate from the family as it becomes available.

Messages to the family can be sent to RKR.Celebration.of.Life@gmail.com. There is a card in the Dean’s Office (205 FASB) for those who would like to sign it.

Virkar Named Distinguished ACS Lifetime Member

University of Utah materials science and engineering Distinguished Professor, Anil Virkar, who is also the H. Kent Bowen Endowed Chair of Materials Science and Engineering, was elected to the grade of Distinguished Lifetime Member of The American Ceramic Society.

The Distinguished Life Member grade is the Society’s most prestigious level of membership and awarded in recognition of a member’s contribution to the ceramics profession.

Virkar earned a Bachelor of Technology in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India, a master’s in engineering mechanics from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in materials science from Northwestern University in Illinois.

He joined the University of Utah in 1973 as a postdoctoral fellow and was appointed a research assistant professor in 1974. Two years later, he was named assistant professor, an associate professor in 1979, a professor in 1984, and a Distinguished Professor in 2007. He was named the H. Kent Bowen Endowed Chair in 2015.

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Dr. Sparks’ Research Group works to better illuminate road lines

Increasing the visibility of roadway markings is an important task for engineers. The most popular approach for making roadway striping more visible has been to add glass beads to the surface of the roadway paint in order to cause some of the light from headlights to retro-reflect back to the car. However, when paint with retroreflective beads is submerged with water the index of refraction of water prevents the light from retro-reflecting and the roadway markings become nearly impossible to observe. The easiest workaround for this problem is to add retroreflective tabs to roads, but in our snowy climate the snowplows would rip tabs off the road leaving Utah with no great solutions.

Phosphorescent roadway paint featuring high-performance Eu:SrAl2O4 phosphors with the patent-pending protective polymer coating innovation from the Sparks Research Group.

The Taylor Sparks Research Group has set out to develop a potential alternative solution based on “glow in the dark” luminescent phosphors. Glow in the dark roadways have been piloted before in the Netherlands and failed spectacularly after only a few weeks due to rainwater causing the rare-earth elements to leach out of the ceramic phosphor in the paint. The innovation was led by group member Jason Nance (M.S., ’19) who performed his Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) while working as the state chemist for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).

Nance and Dr. Taylor Sparks developed a custom polymer coating for the ceramic phosphors that prevents the rare-earth ion from leaching out when submerged in water for prolonged periods. A provisional patent has been filed and a full patent application is under review. Sparks and Nance hope to commercialize this paint through their startup, JCS Labs, and will be conducting feasibility tests on public roads with UDOT this summer.

Dr. Sparks and Nance were recently interviewed by Fox13 News in Salt Lake City about their research and development, watch the interview here.

Dr. Xiaojuan Ni, Recent MSE Ph.D. Graduate, Wins Outstanding Dissertation Award

Recent Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Xiaojuan Ni, received the 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award for The University of Utah’s College of Engineering for her dissertation titled “Growth, Electronic and Transport Properties of Two-Dimensional Materials Beyond Graphene.” Dr. Ni’s dissertation focuses on theoretical and computational studies of novel 2D quantum materials for potential electronic and spintronic applications. A highlight is her original work on demonstrating the robustness of topological insulator (TI) phase against bulk defects. While the topological edge state of TI is well-known to be robustness against non-magnetic “edge” defects, Dr. Ni has systematically showed, for the first time, how “bulk” defects, such as vacancies and grain boundaries, will affect the topological order of electronic states in materials.

Dr. Ni studied under Dr. Feng Liu, Professor of MSE, and was previously recognized by the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers with an outstanding dissertation award. She is currently serving a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Arizona. The MSE Department congratulates Dr. Ni in this award and look forward to following her promising academic career.

Prof. Chandran Led Team Receives ARPA-E Ultimate Grant Award

A University of Utah team lead by Dr. Ravi Chandran, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, which includes Dr. Taylor Sparks, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, and Dr. Wenda Tan, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering has been awarded $800,000 as the Phase-I finding form ARPA-E Ultimate program and involves the development of next generation high temperature alloys.

Current generation of high temperature alloys for aircraft jet turbines are dominated by nickel base alloys, but their capabilities are limited to about 1100C turbine operating temperature. Alloys for higher temperature, about 1300C, inevitably require new alloys based on refractory metals. The team will use physical metallurgy principles for alloy design, assisted by machine learning, CALPHAD phase diagram simulations, phase field modeling and rapid powder metallurgy processing of alloys to make new alloys and prototype samples to meet the ARPA-E specifications.

The newly funded research project begins May 2021.

Metallurgical Engineering Senior, Jerry Howard, offered NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Congratulations to metallurgical engineering senior, Jerry Howard (MET-E, ’21), who was recently offered a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support his planned doctoral studies at the University of Nevada at Reno. If accepted, the award will support Jerry’s stipend and tuition for three years. The total value of these awards is about $138,000. It is a highly competitive award with only about 15% of the applicants selected for awards.

Only 11 NSFGRF’s were awarded to current University of Utah students this year. Jerry is ranked at the top of his graduating metallurgical engineering class and has had a highly distinguished research record under the advising of Prof. Krista Carlson. He is currently supporting a project funded by Idaho National Laboratory and led by Prof. Carlson and Prof. Michael Simpson to develop a process for treating radioactive salts for interim storage

Dr. Liu named a 2021 Outstanding Referee by Physical Review

SALT LAKE CITY — Materials Science & Engineering Professor, Dr. Feng Liu, was named an Outstanding Referee for 2021 by the Physical Review journals. Dr. Liu is one of only 151 faculty members worldwide to be bestowed with this honor this year. This Outstanding Referee honor is a lifetime award and recognition.

Instituted in 2008, the Outstanding Referee program expresses appreciation for the essential work that anonymous peer reviewers do for our journals. Each year a small percentage of our 78,400 active referees are selected and honored with the Outstanding Referee designation. Selections are made based on the number, quality, and timeliness of referee reports as collected in a database over the last 40 years.

For a list of the 2021 honorees please click here.

Tiwari Named NAI Senior Member

Congratulations to University of Utah materials science and engineering professor Ashutosh Tiwari, who was elected a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Senior Member for 2021. He is one of 63 luminaries from 36 institutions named to this year’s class and the only one from Utah.

“It is a great honor to be elected to the National Academy of Inventors as a Senior Member. Though this recognition has been granted to me, it was not possible without the creativity and high-quality research performed by my numerous students and postdocs over the last one and half decades,” said Tiwari. “I am also thankful to the College of Engineering and the University of Utah’s PIVOT Center for providing a conducive environment for high-quality research and innovation.”

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Engineering Entrepreneurship Certificate Grads – College of Engineering

In 2017, leaders at the University of Utah College of Engineering and the David Eccles School of Business recognized a vital intersection between engineering and entrepreneurship – which launched the Engineering Entrepreneurship Certificate (EEC). The unique hybrid of business, entrepreneurship, innovation and law courses has proven to be in-demand across both undergraduate and graduate engineering students.

Fast forward to 2019, and the first student to complete the certificate requirements was Kyle Isaacson. Isaacson earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Isaacson knew he wanted to stand out, so he applied for the certificate program as soon as it was launched.

“Despite going for a Ph.D., I’ve always known that I was headed for an industry career and not an academic one. I figured this designation would set me apart,” he said.

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Professor Emeritus Donald J. Lyman Passes

Donald J. Lyman, professor emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering and Bioengineering at the University of Utah, passed away last month at the age of 94.

Dr. Lyman was well-known for innovative biomedical polymer science and analytical characterization, blood-contacting materials, and protein interfacial science. He began and was director of Utah’s Biomedical Engineering Center for Polymer Implants, with research focused on new polymer developments for medical applications, innovating polymer membranes, vascular implants, nerve implants, ostomy implants and sutures.

Dr. Donald J. Lyman—scientist, researcher, educator, mentor and visionary—passed away at home on November 8, 2020, a few days after his 94th birthday. Throughout his long and distinguished career in industry, research institutes and academia, his love of science was palpable and infectious, a love that was first sparked by The Microbe Hunters by Paul De Kruif he read as an adolescent. It introduced him to a world of inexhaustible discoveries, one that he would explore through chemistry.

Equipped with the Gilbert chemistry set his parents bought him as a boy, he built his first chemistry lab in the basement of his parents’ home. The beauty of the natural world awed him and never ceased to inspire his curiosity and passion for learning.

Gifted with imagination, a nimble mind open to new ideas, and the ability to reduce complex ideas to understandable nuggets, Dr. Lyman had a knack for reaching across to people of all ages and backgrounds, drawing them into his world of science. An international leader in the field of biomedical polymers, he advocated for an interdisciplinary and cooperative approach among researchers to successfully tackle the challenges posed by the complexities of repairing the human body. He cautioned that the sharp distinctions drawn between various specialties, while being useful human contraptions for organizing the world around them, disappeared in nature and carried the danger of contributing to myopia that hindered cooperation and innovation.

Dr. Lyman began his research career at the Pioneering Research Laboratory of E.I. DuPont de Nemours after receiving his Ph.D in organic chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1952. At DuPont, he focused on polymer synthesis and structure/property relationships under the direction of Dr. William Hale Charch. With the premature death of Dr. Charch in 1958, Dr. Lyman began looking beyond DuPont to expand into other areas of polymer research. Professor Herman Mark at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn suggested that he contact Dr. Maurice Huggins who was looking for a synthetic polymer chemist. Dr. Huggins invited Dr. Lyman to join his team at the Stanford Research Institute. The move to SRI in 1961 was a pivotal turning point for Dr. Lyman.                 

Soon after arriving at SRI, Dr. Lyman attended a lecture at Stanford’s medical school by Dr. Belding Scribner describing the first 15 patients kept alive on chronic dialysis using an arteriovenous shunt he developed at the University of Washington. Until  then, fresh cuts in a patient’s arm were made to access the artery and vein each time the patient was dialyzed, which severely limited the number of procedures since the same access sites could not be reused in most cases. After the talk, Dr. Lyman approached Dr. Scribner with some ideas on developing membranes to remove toxins during dialysis. This led to Dr. Scribner funding Dr. Lyman’s first year of membrane research. Funding from the John Hartford Foundation and the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases soon followed.

Dr. Lyman also began working on the effects of polymer structure and surface properties on the coagulation of blood. This research to synthesize thromboresistent polymers was supported by the National Heart Institute. One of the polymers developed, a new copolyether urethane urea, was later used in fabricating the first generation of the Utah artificial heart designed by Dr. Clifford Kwan-Gett.

Because of his work at SRI, Dr. Lyman was elected in 1964 as a member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs. At the time, Dr. Lyman was among only a half dozen or so Ph.D.’s among a sea of M.D.’s. There he crossed paths with Dr. Willem Kolff who at the time was the Scientific Director of Artificial Organs at the Cleveland Clinic. In 1967 Dr. Kolff left for the University of Utah to direct the Division of Artificial Organs that was started by Dr. Keith Reemstma, Head of University of Utah’s Department of Surgery and Acting Dean of the College of Medicine.

On the recommendation of Dr. Kolff, Dr. Reemstma invited Dr. Lyman in early 1969 to join the University of Utah, offering him research and teaching appointments in both the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering. Attracted not only by the opportunity to work with Dr. Kolff  but equally by the atmosphere of excellence and cutting edge research that permeated the University under the leadership of President James Fletcher (who later headed NASA) and others such as Dr. Reemtsma and the renowned hematologist Dr. Maxwell Wintrobe, Dr. Lyman embarked on a 20-year stint at the University of Utah.

Dr. Lyman’s continued interest in the synthesis and characterization of polymers and the broader applications of polymers as implants led him to pursue his own research programs. From early in his research on biomaterials, one of Dr. Lyman’s long range goals was to develop polymer implants that would repair the injury in the acute phase but then function as scaffolding to promote healing to ultimately reduce or replace the body’s reliance on the implants. He obtained numerous grants from several agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Heart Institute, and the National Institute of General Medical Science. The largest of these programs was the Biomedical Engineering Center for Polymer Implants funded by NIGMS in 1978 and directed by Dr. Lyman. An interdisciplinary team of leading researchers in different specialties was brought together to work on a variety of implant areas, including vascular graft, ureter, esophageal and nerve repair. The Center was the first of its kind in the United States.

In addition to his research, Dr. Lyman taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in biomaterials and chemistry throughout his tenure. His courses were popular among students but none more so than his polymer synthesis class, a hands-on graduate level lab course taught every summer quarter through the Chemistry department. Space was limited and there was always a waiting list of students wanting to enroll.

Dr. Lyman’s research attracted graduate students, post docs, fellows and visiting professors both domestically and internationally. As faculty advisor to over two dozen masters and doctoral students, Dr. Lyman was both demanding and approachable. He also trained surgical residents on research methods through the Surgery department. He enjoyed teaching, hoping to challenge students to think independently and question conventional wisdom. Generous with his time and sparing no effort to help his students achieve their goals, his students will remember getting back numerous red-lined drafts of their thesis and dissertation and the countless hours spent rehearsing their oral presentation in front of Dr. Lyman and their colleagues, all in an effort to prepare for the main event. It was particularly helpful to those for whom English was not their first language.

Dr. Lyman retired from the University of Utah in 1989. During his tenure, he held appointments in four academic departments—Materials Science and Engineering, Surgery, Bioengineering and Chemistry. The Department of Bioengineering was created in no small measure from the vision and efforts by him and Dr. Joseph Andrade to fill the need for an academic department focused on biomaterials. He was appointed as emeritus professor of both Materials Science and Engineering and Bioengineering in 1989.

Dr. Lyman’s research continued after leaving the University and moving to Washington state. From 1994 to 2003, he was the director of Polymer Chemistry at the Hope Heart Institute, a research institute in Seattle, Washington founded by the late Dr. Lester Sauvage, a world renowned heart surgeon. Dr. Lyman’s last research took him into an entirely new area of study—that of using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to study the molecular changes that breast cancer appeared to initiate in the morphology of hair. His foray into this research was accidental. He learned from his long time friend, the late Dr. Maxwell Feughelman (University of New South Wales, Australia), that a former graduate student of his (Dr. Veronica James) detected shifts in the pattern of hair structure in the presence of breast cancer using Synchrotron x‑ray diffraction. Though these pattern shifts were observable, x‑ray diffraction could not explain the molecular changes causing the shifts. Having used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy extensively in his polymer research to study molecular structures, Dr. Lyman thought it might be able to shed light on what was happening at the molecular level to cause these pattern shifts. His last two papers reported his findings.

Dr. Lyman’s achievements are many. He authored and co-authored nearly 170 scientific papers and book chapters. He is the holder of several patents and the recipient of many awards and honors, including University of Utah’s Distinguished Research Award for 1982-1983, the Clemson Award for Basic Research (Society for Biomaterials) for 1982, visiting professorships and invited lectureships. He served on editorial boards, think tanks and steering committees. He was also a founding member of the Society for Biomaterials.

These achievements would not have been possible were it not for the many colleagues, students, staff and friends, too many to name, but the list would not be complete without mentioning Dr. Dominic Albo, professor of surgery with whom Dr. Lyman began working immediately upon arriving in Utah and whose friendship helped sustain Dr. Lyman during trying times.

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