Stamenkovic Joins UCI Faculty as Inaugural Director of Horiba Institute

A senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, Vojislav Stamenkovic joins the Samueli School faculty and will serve as inaugural director of the UCI Horiba Institute for Mobility and Connectivity².

Oct. 29, 2020 - Vojislav Stamenkovic, an expert in electrochemical systems for energy conversion and storage, joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering as a professor Oct. 1, 2020, and will serve as the inaugural director of UC Irvine’s Horiba Institute for Mobility and Connectivity² (HIMaC²), scheduled to open in January. 

Stamenkovic comes to the Samueli School of Engineering from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, where he was a senior scientist and group leader. He was attracted to UCI’s academic setting, home to a number of faculty pursuing advanced research and teaching at the forefront in energy and environmental topics.

“The faculty in the CBE department connect all aspects of my research interests related to energy conversion and storage, heterogeneous catalysis as well as functional biomaterials,” said Stamenkovic. “HIMaC² is envisioned to become a new hub for implementing renewable, sustainable and environmentally neutral technologies such as fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries in transportation and the electric grid, while evaluating impacts on mobility and connectivity.”

Stamenkovic spent most of his career working for the U.S. National Laboratories, first, for seven years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and then 15 years at the Argonne National Laboratory. In both places, he pursued fundamental and applied research on materials for electrochemical systems. Before coming to the U.S., he held an early career academic position at the University of Belgrade. The author of over 150 articles and book chapters, Stamenkovic has delivered over 200 presentations at major conferences, symposia and seminars. He currently serves as an associate editor of the ACS Catalysis journal and on the editorial board of Surface Science and Surface Science Letters.

“Voja’s preeminence in the development of functional materials for electrochemical applications, connectivity to industry and commitment to mentorship creates new impactful opportunities for the department, especially for faculty and students involved in energy and sustainability,” said Vasan Venugopalan, CBE professor and department chair.

Stamenkovic says the need to make an urgent and strategic getaway from reliance on fossil fuels is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. “We are witnessing devastating effects of more than a century-long period of uncontrolled release of products from burning fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas. Moreover, several incidents with nuclear power plants over the decades are additional wakeup calls in the quest to address sustainable harvesting of energy in a renewable manner,” said Stamenkovic. “Along those lines, further development of electrochemical technologies will facilitate global deployment of reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly systems for energy management, namely batteries, fuel cells and electrolyzers.”

HIMaC² Is a joint initiative of the Horiba Group, a global provider of analytical and measurement systems, and the UCI Advanced Power and Energy Program. “We are especially excited because Voya’s expertise in fundamental materials design for fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries so aptly complements the existing applied engineering science at the Advanced Power and Energy Program,” said Jack Brouwer, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and director of APEP. “With Voya’s proven leadership in the field of electrochemistry now applied to leading HIMaC², we can together change the world by taking new electrochemical ideas and insights all the way to practical application.”

At HIMaC², Stamenkovic aims to bring academia and industry together to define and create feasible solutions for future transportation. He hopes to position the institute as a highly visible center, where global manufacturers can evaluate their technologies, and communicate and partner with stakeholders in an academic setting that will facilitate and enable further technological advancements. Zero-emission vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells and new-generation batteries will be evaluated for all relevant aspects of integration into future society. This includes autonomous driving as well as numerous connectivity requirements.

“The opening of HIMaC² and the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building will create a number of opportunities to coordinate fundamental and applied research efforts that could be evaluated in real systems for energy conversion and storage,” said Stamenkovic.

– Lori Brandt

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