Calendar Icon Aug 09, 2019 Person Bust Icon By Karl Vogel RSS Submit a Story
Shudipto Dishari has been at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for only three years, but has already earned plenty of attention for innovative work in both the research laboratory and the classroom.
It’s recognition that Dishari, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, said not only has opened doors professionally, but also help validate career path decisions.
“I think I have already explored some of those doors,” Dishari said. “These awards tell me that I’m doing the right things and I should keep doing those things.”
In late July, she was named one of 73 recipients of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Award. It is given to scientists from national laboratories and academic institutions across the United States for research that helps the DOE further its mission.
Dishari’s research, “Porin Inspired Ionomers with sub-nm Gated Ion Channels for High Ion Conductivity and Selectivity,” aims to design new materials (polymers) that will improve energy efficiency and storage, possibly in devices such as fuel cells and redox flow batteries.
In spring 2018, Dishari was also chosen to receive a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award, a five-year, $600,000 grant for research exploring nanoscale phenomena in polymers at non-precious metal catalyst interfaces and to help in developing thin electrochemical devices.
This award comes on the heels of Dishari receiving the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Harold & Esther Edgerton Junior Faculty Award in April. The Edgerton Award, presented since 2000, typically honors one faculty in their third year of pre-tenure status who “demonstrates creative research, extraordinary teaching abilities, and academic promise.” She is the fifth College of Engineering faculty member to receive the award.
Dishari sees it as an opportunity to learn enough to branch off into a different area: entrepreneurship.
“Hopefully, these awards will be the stepping stones for my future work,” Dishari said. “If we can demonstrate that these materials are working well, then at some point I might be interested in pursuing a spin-off company through which I would be able to design and commercialize these polymers.
“I don’t know much about starting a business, but what I’ve learned throughout my life is that if you don’t know something, just jump into it and learn as much as you can.”
Another key component of the three awards is education and teaching, areas that Dishari said require as dynamic an approach as any research path.
Dishari said the thermodynamics course she teaches is more “abstract and theoretical” than some other engineering courses, and it requires the teacher to be good at planning and listening.
That’s why Dishari uses techniques that develop deeper connections with her students – like explaining subjects in multiple ways during lectures, rearranging assignment and test schedules for busy students and taking student feedback from mid-semester surveys to change plans for classes.
“I try to do simple things in class to help maximize the understanding of the students, and I try to engage all of my students in an organic way. …. Together we make a customized game plan to improve and, in turn, they feel more motivated and connected,” Dishari said.
“Engineering students always want to know how their education connects to real situations. I try to help them tie these loose ends into real-life knots.”
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