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Rensselaer Professor Daniel Lewis Receives NSF CAREER Award

Tue, 2011-02-15 13:41 -- Anonymous

February 15, 2011

Young Faculty Researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute To Investigate Materials Structure With Big Impact on Performance of Metals and Ceramics

Daniel Lewis

Daniel Lewis, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Lewis will use the projected five-year, $630,000 award to understand how materials behave at high temperatures.

“Dr. Lewis is an outstanding researcher and academic, and we are exceptionally proud of him for being selected to receive an NSF CAREER Award,” said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “CAREER Awards are reserved for the nation’s most promising young researchers. In addition to his robust research platform, Dan heads the Institute’s leading-edge Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research Lab, and continues to grow the successful ASM Materials Day Camp at Rensselaer as a vehicle for inspiring local high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. We applaud Dan’s achievements, and look forward to his many future successes.”

With his CAREER project, titled “Grain Growth and Topological Evolution of Polycrystals,” Lewis will use a new approach to investigate the long-standing problem of grain growth in metallic and ceramic materials. Certain properties of these materials are strongly dependent on the size of the grains, or crystallites, that make up the bulk material. Environmental factors, such as exposure to high temperatures, can impact the grain size over time. In some cases, this change in grain size can lead to extensive damage or failure in metals or ceramics. Lewis is seeking to conduct simulations using the Rensselaer supercomputing center, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), and physical experiments to characterize and better understand the kinetics and thermodynamics of grain growth in metallic materials.

The research program will include participation from high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, including some undergraduate student-led research projects, Lewis said.

The CAREER Award is given to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers and is one of NSF’s most competitive awards, placing emphasis on high-quality research and novel education initiatives.

Lewis joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2005, and now leads the Institute’s Physical Metallurgy and Computational Microstructure Lab, as well as the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research Lab. He is also a member of the university’s Center for Future Energy Systems.

Additionally, Lewis directs and oversees the Materials Day Camp at Rensselaer, a week-long summer camp for inquisitive high school juniors and seniors. The camp, sponsored by the ASM Materials Education Foundation, the Eastern New York Chapter of ASM, the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) Foundation, General Electric, Knolls Atomic Power Lab, and the Hudson-Mohawk Chapter of TMS, has been popular since its introduction at Rensselaer in 2005.

Lewis received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, in materials science and engineering, from Lehigh University.

For additional information on Lewis’ research at Rensselaer, visit:

For additional information on the Materials Day Camp at Rensselaer, visit:

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu