Apparao Rao: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. Apparao Rao is the R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics at Clemson University. A long-time inventor and innovator, Rao received his Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from the University of Kentucky in 1989 prior to serving as a post-doctoral research associate at MIT. His first work as a professor was at the University of Kentucky before he joined Clemson in 2000. During his time at Clemson, Rao has founded and continues to direct the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI) and serves as the Associate Dean for Discovery for the College of Science. Being a Fellow of the American Physical Society, AAAS, and more recently the National Academy of Inventors, Rao has been awarded with multiple honors.

Rao’s laboratory has explored many different aspects of nanomaterials. At the fundamental level, his team has innovated novel synthesis methods and spectroscopic characterization methods for nanomaterials. Some of the recent applications include triboelectric nanogenerators and electrochemical energy storage devices. These technologies can lead to a greener, more affordable, and sustainable future across the globe. 

Over the past seventeen years, Dr. Rao has served Clemson well. His research and inventions have earned him accolades, while his time directing the CNI has anchored him as a prestigious faculty member and mentor to many future researchers. 

To learn more about Dr. Rao and his research, click here

Mark Roberts: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. Mark Roberts, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University, studies functional polymers and carbon materials with unique electrochemical properties to address important challenges facing energy storage devices. Roberts received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University in 2002, where he studied the antimicrobial resistance of biofilms using theoretical methods. He graduated from Stanford University with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 2005 and 2009 respectively, for his work on developing flexible and water-resistant organic electronic sensors. Prior to joining Clemson, Roberts worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia National Labs, where he developed functional polymers to achieve a range of activity from fast-discharging batteries to CO2capture.

Dr. Roberts leads a research group at Clemson that focuses on tailoring the properties of polymers and carbon nanomaterials in order to understand how molecular structure and functionality influence electrochemical processes. Roberts has significantly impacted the research enterprise while training the next generation of researchers. His work has influenced the development of high-power and high-energy density batteries, electrolytes that make Li-ion batteries safer, and fast charging and discharge flow battery electrodes. He has graduated 4 Ph.D. students and many undergraduate honors students, and he has secured research funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and 3M. He has co-authored 60 journal articles and book chapters and has been a lead inventor on 7 patents.

Roberts’ game-changing research and experience in his field has allowed him to equip the next generation of researchers with the knowledge and skills needed to impact the scientific community.  

To learn more about Dr. Roberts, click here.

Marek Urban: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. Marek Urban, the Sirrine Foundation Endowed Chair and Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has dedicated his research to improving the scientific landscape through creating innovative self-healing commodity polymers. In his six years at Clemson, Urban has made a substantial impact on the Clemson University research enterprise.

Prior to joining Clemson, Urban directed the Industry/University Cooperative Research (I/U CRC) and Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) funded by the National Science Foundation. He has published over 400 research papers, written four books, and received several patents and awards for his work on self-healing and antimicrobial polymers. He leads the Urban Research Group, an interdisciplinary group that focuses their research efforts on the design and synthesis of adaptive polymers and understanding the molecular level events governing their behavior in various environments. The Urban Research Group has been recognized numerous times for its findings regarding self-healing polymers and antimicrobial polymer surfaces. The group became the first research group to develop self-healing polymers that repair upon exposure to sunlight (or electromagnetic radiation) and commodity polymers that self-heal without any intervention.

Since being at Clemson, Urban has been able to use the resources provided by the Division of Research to further his research endeavors. Recently, Urban and his research team were awarded the Clemson Faculty SUCCEEDS grant offered as a part of the Division of Research R-Initiatives program. Clemson Faculty SUCCEDS provide seed grants that support leading-edge research and position interdisciplinary faculty teams to successfully compete for external funding. As an innovator and contributor to the Clemson University research enterprise, Marek will continue to significantly impact the scientific community with his research.

Learn more about Dr. Marek Urban here.