Bowman Receives CAREER Award

Bowman’s CAREER award will further his research on advanced ceramic materials.

March 10, 2021 - William Bowman, Samueli School assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has won a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation’s Division Of Materials Research. CAREER awards, considered among the NSF’s most prestigious, support early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Bowman’s five-year $699,369 award will advance his research into ceramic materials, which are key components in energy conversion and storage technologies, including fuel cells, batteries and devices that produce hydrogen gas and process carbon dioxide. Specifically, he hopes to better understand the behavior of ceramic materials at the atomic level and enhance their ionic conductivity through state-of-the art nanomaterial fabrication and electron microscopy characterization. His goal is to develop design rules for defects in high-performance engineering materials that will enable the production of improved ceramics for energy conversion and storage, as well as chemical conversion applications.

The award also includes an education and outreach component, which will engage local high school teachers and students from underrepresented groups in science and technology activities. Dubbed STAIR – Science, Technology and Art of Imaging and Recording – the outreach initiative will bring Bowman’s group together with teachers at Santa Ana Valley High School to co-develop a physics curriculum. The program also will provide the classrooms with low-cost optical microscopes called fold scopes, which will be used to teach physics and imaging concepts. Bowman’s students will teach the students how to use the equipment to take photographs and edit them to resemble art. “The results are usually artistic versions of data, which makes it more interesting to make and look at,” said Bowman.

Additionally, the funding will provide materials science graduate students with training in advanced nanomaterials synthesis and characterization. This will prepare them for employment in manufacturing, and in research and development in clean energy and semiconductors.

“I was really happy about the award announcement,” Bowman said. “I feel the science we proposed is exciting and timely, and it should help us better understand how ceramics perform in electrochemical devices needed to electrify and decarbonize society. The award will support members of my lab who are working to explain how the behavior of these materials arises from their arrangements of atoms.”

– Anna Lynn Spitzer