It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself and welcome you to the inaugural edition of The Joule – an ND Energy biannual publication, highlighting the energy-related research, education, and outreach activities at the University of Notre Dame. As the newly appointed Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy), I hope you will find the articles provided here both timely and interesting, as we strive to keep you apprised of the latest endeavors in energy at Notre Dame.
For those of you who don’t know me, please allow me to take a few minutes to share a bit of information about my background. I received my Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Manitoba in 1994. A few years later, I joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame. I am the Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and concurrent Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2002, I was appointed Department Chair and served in this capacity until 2009, when I was awarded an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) from the U.S. Department of Energy. Since then, I have served as the Director of the Materials Science of Actinides EFRC, which was recently renewed in 2014. Now, it gives me great pleasure to also be serving as the Director of ND Energy, which was established in 2005 by Dr. Joan F. Brennecke.
Some of the world’s most pressing problems require energy as part of the solution. As such, we need to think broadly about policy, ethics, international relations, as well as the hard sciences to develop affordable energy solutions. These solutions will be most important to improving human well-being and for national and international security, as major conflicts develop over energy access and its use. Given the urgency of these issues, I welcome your comments and any questions you might have regarding ND Energy and how we might influence and help to address these and other major energy-related issues nationally and internationally. 
Thank you for taking time to visit with us. I look forward to your feedback.
Kind regards,
Peter C. Burns    
Director, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy)


Text Box:    ND Energy welcomes two new faculty.  Dr. Jon Camden, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, joined Notre Dame this year. He was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee and a Postdoctoral Researcher at Northwestern University. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2005. His primary research interests are the optical properties of metallic nanostructures, and as a part of this effort, the exploration of plasmon assisted catalysis and plasmon-enhanced solar cells.
Dr. Antonio Simonetti, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, joined Notre Dame in 2008. He received his Ph.D. from Carleton University in 1994. His primary research interests are in-situ, high spatial resolution analyses of earth materials, nuclear forensics, LA-MC-ICP-MS-based research, geochronology, isotope geochemistry, and tracing environmental pollution.
Kudos to ND Energy faculty who have received nationally acclaimed awards and recognitions. Dr. William Phillip, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received a Young Membrane Scientist Award from the North American Membrane Society. Dr. Jason Hicks, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been recognized by the American Society of Engineering Education as a Leader in Engineering Education. Dr. Huili (Grace) Xing, Professor of Electrical Engineering, received the 2014 Young Scientist Award by the International Symposium for Compound Semiconductors. The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored the following ND Energy faculty with Early Career Development (CAREER) AwardsDr. Jason Hicks, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Dr. Franklin Tao, (former) Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Dr. Haifeng Gao, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Dr. William Phillip, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Dr. Amy Hixon, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, received an Early Career Award from the Department of Homeland Security. The University has recognized Dr. Mark Caprio, Associate Professor of Physics and ND Energy faculty member, with the prestigious Joyce Teaching Excellence Award. Two ND Energy faculty were named to Thomas Reuters’ list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014. Dr. Joan Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Dr. Prashant Kamat, the Rev. John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Professor of Science in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Radiation Laboratory, are joined by more than 3,200 scientists from around the world who have published the highest number of articles that have been cited the most frequently by other researchers. 

ND Energy says goodbye to a gifted and talented friend, colleague, and fellow researcher. Dr. Heino Nitsche, Professor of Chemistry at the University of California-Berkeley and member of the ND Energy Technical Advisory Board, died unexpectedly in his home in California the morning of July 15th. Dr. Nitsche was a world-renowned and accomplished scientist in actinides. We are truly saddened by this loss and will miss our gifted and talented friend, colleague, and fellow researcher. Read more 


Energy-related proposals and awards from January through September 2014. Since January, ND Energy faculty have submitted 50 energy-related research proposals for external funding, totaling more than $47 million. To date, the University has received 28 awards, totaling more than $7 million in external funding, to conduct energy-related research at Notre Dame.

University reports an all-time high in research funding. The University has reported the highest level of overall research funding in a non-stimulus year for fiscal year 2014 (July 2013 – June 2014). Receiving $113 million in research awards, this represents a $17 million increase over the previous year. Read more

Notre Dame’s EFRC is renewed. The Notre Dame EFRC, titled Materials Science of Actinides, was renewed for another 4 years, bringing the overall total of funding received from the U.S. Department of Energy to over $30 million ($18.5 million for the first 5 years starting in 2009 and $12 million for the next 4 years starting in 2014). Directed by Dr. Peter Burns, Henry J. Massman Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, the EFRC involves participants from several other universities and a national laboratory and will seek to understand and control materials that contain actinides at the nanoscale, which is intended to lay the scientific foundation for advanced nuclear energy systems that may provide much more energy while creating less nuclear waste. Read more

Researchers at Notre Dame offer insights into a new class of semiconducting materials. A new paper by researchers Joseph Manser, a graduate student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Dr. Prashant Kamat, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science, describes their investigations of the fundamental optical properties of a new class of semiconducting materials known as organic-inorganic “hybrid” perovskites. Read more

Notre Dame and five public and private partners announced a $36 million project to advance research and new technologies in turbomachinery. The Notre Dame Turbomachinery Facility, housed in South Bend’s Ignition Park, will be the nation’s foremost research and test facility for advancing the technology used in the massive gas turbine engines used by commercial and military aircraft, power plants, and the oil and gas industry. According to University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., “This venture will be a cutting-edge research and testing facility for the turbine engine industry as well as a tremendous economic driver for our region.” The facility will be fully operational in July 2016. Read more

Notre Dame receives award from 3ie to design impact evaluation in Mozambique. The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) and the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) will work with faculty and staff from the Universidade Católica de Moçambique (UCM) to assess the impacts of early warning systems for climate-related disasters in Mozambique, an area extremely susceptible to natural disasters and climate change due to its dense population and low-lying coastal and river zones. Notre Dame’s research team will be led by Dr. Jessica Hellmann, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of ND-GAIN, and ND Energy faculty member. Read more

Notre Dame signs agreement with Heidelberg University. This agreement will serve as the basis for exploration of joint research, academic exchanges, and other cooperative activities between the two institutions. Read more

Notre Dame breaks ground on new $35 million research facility. The University recently celebrated the generosity of alumnus Ted H. McCourtney and his wife, Tracy, during a groundbreaking ceremony for McCourtney Hall, a world-class research facility, located on the east side of campus near Hesburgh Library. This 220,000-square-foot building will create, for the first time at Notre Dame, space for highly collaborative, state-of-the-art research that crosses the Colleges of Engineering and Science. Read more

The Photoelectrochemical and Electrochemical Testing Suites are in operation. The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) has welcomed two new photo/electrochemical testing suites to its instrumentation lineup. The custom-designed setups include two solar simulators, a Potentiostat with rotating disc electrode and electrochemical impendence capability, a gas sampling loop, and two in-line GCs for long-range stability or gas evolution testing. For a complete list of MCF instrumentation, visit the MCF Website

The MCF was recently spotlighted by the Office of Sustainability. Read full article
ND Energy announces the ND Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Notre Dame have the ability to receive additional funding through the competitive ND Energy fellowship program to support their energy-related research projects and boost their chances for external funding. ND Energy expects to fund up to 15 fellowships this year and will be announcing the inaugural fellows very soon.   

Education and Outreach

The NSF Research Experiences for Teachers was another success.
Administered by ND Energy, the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) on Engineering a More Sustainable Energy Future was held June 16 – August 1, 2014 on Notre Dame’s campus. One middle school teacher and fourteen high school teachers participated in the seven-week program, funded by the National Science Foundation. Fourteen research labs provided a host of different topics for teachers to study and perform research in order to develop new curriculum for their classrooms. Read more

The Art 2 Science Camp, sponsored by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Physics at Notre Dame, ignites stellar imaginations through an integrated STEM approach to learning. ND Energy faculty member, Dr. Amy Hixon, provided young campers a feel for how research is conducted in the Art 2 Science camp this last summer. Amy and her graduate students explored the Diet Coke/Mentos geyser reaction as an example of her research into how processes at the mineral-water interface control actinide behavior. Dr. Hixon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. See video highlights

The Energy Studies Minor continues to gain popularity. Eighteen students have graduated with the minor since it began in 2011. Ten students graduated last spring, and an anticipated twelve will be graduating this coming spring. The students enrolled in the minor come from all colleges, predominately engineering, science and business. 

Energy Week 2014 was successful in raising awareness on campus of energy-related issues. Held from October 6-10, activities included displays in South Quad, research posters, exploration of careers, a panel discussion about hydraulic fracturing, and lecture about the future of energy from our Director, Peter Burns. Read more

Distinguished Lectures
  • November 13, 2014, William Kinman, Clean Chemistry Team, Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Enhanced Environmental Nuclear Safeguards through Advanced Mass Spectrometry.”
  • November 4, 2014, Albert Migliori, Director of the Seaborg Institute for Actinide Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Mysteries of Plutonium Metal and the Fundamental Science That Connects Them.”
  • October 1, 2014, Nancy Haegel (ND ’81), Director, Materials Science Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), “The Materials Science Center at NREL: Multiscale Materials Design for the National’s Clean Energy Future.”
  • September 10, 2014, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, J.C. Warner University Professor of Natural Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, “Nanostructured Functional Materials by Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization.”
Read more

High School Program

Students from l. to r. are Josh Kovacs, Alexa Burd, CeCe Taylor, Danny Martinez, and Karlee Taylor. In the center is Dr. Albert Migliori, Senior Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In fall 2013, an internship between Notre Dame and Mishawaka High School was created.  This internship allows junior and senior high school students to join research groups on campus to learn research practices. During the 2013/2014 academic year, 4 students participated in the program (3 in the fall and 3 in the spring - 2 both semesters). Currently six students (3 juniors and 3 seniors) are participating in the internship program. These students interact with graduate students and postdoc fellows in the Burns research group on the nanoscale control of actinide materials. In the coming months, we plan to explore the possibilities of extending this program to other energy-related research groups across the ND Energy faculty.
Copyright © 2014 Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame, All rights reserved.