Won Named Early Career Innovator

Nov. 18, 2020 - The Samueli School’s Yoonjin Won beat out three other UC Irvine nominees to win the 2020 Early Career Innovator of the Year award from UCI Beall Applied Innovation. The UCI Innovator Awards recognize researchers and faculty who work to promote commercialization of university innovations and intellectual property.

Won is an assistant professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering and chemical & biomolecular engineering who uses data-driven physics, extreme computing and material design to improve efficiency in energy, water, manufacturing processes and electronics cooling. She won $5,000 and an engraved trophy. 

She seeks to design materials with engineered thermal and multifunctional properties by building on the fundamentals of interfacial and heat transport phenomena. "I am interested in demonstrating data-informed thermal science to develop a machine-learning framework that can resolve thermal and water-energy challenges," Won said. "These efforts aim to bring transformational efficiency enhancements in water, energy, manufacturing processes and electronics cooling by fundamentally manipulating liquid-solid-vapor interactions and transport phenomena across multiple length and time scales."  

Won was nominated for the award by Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Samueli School associate dean for research and innovation and Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Interim Dean Michael Green, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. They cited her innovative research; wide-ranging partnerships with industry, government agencies, international organizations and academia; and her success in obtaining funding.

“The research of Professor Yoonjin Won is at the forefront of innovative new materials for water-energy applications ranging from energy efficiency improvements, to water-energy collections, and thermal management systems,” Foufoula-Georgiou and Green wrote in their nomination. “Professor Won’s research has opened up a new world of opportunities for smart energy materials and smart energy systems with significant commercial value. She has demonstrated her ability to stimulate technological innovation, to foster technology transfer and to commercialize her research ideas by partnering with companies to take her research to applications.”

Won also was recognized this year with the 2020 ASME Women in Engineering Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division, and is a past recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the ASME Early Career Award.

"I am deeply honored with this prestigious award," Won said of her most recent accomplishment. "Always, it is important to conduct cutting-edge research. At the same time, the research-related knowlege should impact the world or benefit individuals, which is my personal goal as an engineer."

– Anna Lynn Spitzer

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