2008 Graduate School/UWM Foundation Research Awards
Junhong Chen, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
The research of mechanical engineer Junhong Chen includes unique production of nanoparticles for advanced technology devices and development of nanoscale gas and biological sensors.
Using plasma—partially ionized gases—Chen’s lab produces nanocrystals with precise size, form, structure, and composition, and on various surfaces.
The miniaturized gas sensors under development in his lab, which rapidly identify trace amount of gases/vapors or their mixtures, are important in such areas as environmental monitoring, medical diagnosis, food processing, and control of other industrial processes. Chen’s UWM Research Foundation Catalyst Grant is funding development of a nanoscale gas sensor that combines and improves upon two existing sensor technologies.
Chen’s graduate advisor at the University of Minnesota, Jane Davidson, writes that “he is one of the leading young scientists in the U.S. and has the intellect and drive to become one of the future superstars.”
Other funding for Chen’s research since 2004 includes a Research Growth Initiative® award, five grants from the National Science foundation, and grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, Xerox Corporation, and Miller Electric Manufacturing in Appleton.
Dyanna Czeck, Assistant Professor, Geosciences
Dyanna Czeck studies how rocks deform under stresses caused by tectonic motions. Such research is important for understanding how and where rocks may fault—break catastrophically—or flow—deform gradually—in tectonically active areas.
Her specific areas of study include the three-dimensional flow processes, mineral alignment, and strain in deformed rocks.
Czeck’s work is remarkable for the wide range of research techniques she employs. In addition to traditional geologic field mapping and geophysical surveys, she uses electron microscopy, material flow studies, and GIS technologies.
Czeck is a widely traveled researcher, having done fieldwork in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Utah, Canada, Scotland, and Spain.
UW-Madison structural geologist Basil Tikoff writes of Czeck, “Her integration of field geology, quantitative analysis, and geophysical methods has had a major impact” on knowledge of lateral-motion faults, adding that “It is a pleasure to work with someone as intellectually alive as Dyanna.”
In addition to a 2005 grant from the National Science Foundation, Czeck received a 2003 UWM Research Committee Award and a 2006 Research Growth Initiative® award.
Prasenjit Guptasarma, Associate Professor, Physics
Understanding unconventional superconductivity, and other phenomena involving strong interactions between electrons, is considered the Holy Grail of condensed matter physics. Such research has helped produce many electronic devices we use today—devices that are faster, greener, cheaper, and smarter.
Prasenjit Guptasarma and his colleagues have carried out pioneering work in superconductivity and magnetism, now published in many influential research journals such as Nature. In 2005, Guptasarma won the National Science Foundation's prestigious CAREER award. Today, he continues to attract a substantial level of extramural funding.
To probe fundamental interactions, physicists use single crystals and study them in extreme environments such as very low temperature and high magnetic field.
“He ranks among the most promising young experimental physicists in this country today,” says Arun Bansil, program manager in the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. “He is already among the best crystal growers in the world.”
He also is well-known for the how often other scientists cite his published work in their own research. More than 1,500 publication citations places Guptasarma in the top 5 percent of associate professors in condensed matter physics, says Marshall Onellion, professor of physics at UW-Madison.