Chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate wins prestigious poster award at the 2018 Catalysis Gordon Research Conference

Juliana Carneiro

Chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate Juliana Carneiro received the Best Poster Award at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference on catalysis, held in New Hampshire.  Attending this prestigious forum and presenting a poster is a coveted experience for chemical engineering graduate students. The conference invites only 150 students and faculty, and only one graduate student receives the biennial award.    

"Graduate students like myself have the unique opportunity to learn from and interact with the frontrunners of catalysis science, who are only accessible otherwise through literature and scientific papers," Carneiro said.    

Carneiro's research focuses on optimizing oxygen electrocatalysis to create more efficient batteries, fuel cells and electrolyzers. Her work was analyzed alongside students from top universities, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Carneiro is a member of Professor Eranda Nikolla's research group, which also focuses on catalysis and electrocatalysis for energy conversion and storage systems, such as batteries.  

"Juliana's success shows me that it doesn't matter what university you come from. If you do solid science, the scientific community will recognize your hard work," said Nikolla. "The conference is a close-knit community, where only the top scientists are in attendance. For Juliana to end up among them is very rewarding."   

Nikolla has asserted herself as a leader in the catalysis field through her work at Wayne State University. She spoke on the "design of complex metal/metal-oxide heterogeneous catalysts for energy and chemical conversion" at the conference and also won the Best Poster Award when she was a graduate student at the University of Michigan.    

"I had a great sense of belonging at the conference, and I think this is because of Eranda's past and current work," Carneiro said.  "She is really making a name for Wayne State in the catalysis field."   

Carneiro received her undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from the Universidad Tiradentes in Brazil.  

"I have always wanted to study environmental engineering, but I learned very quickly that it focuses heavily on management instead of actually designing environmentally friendly technology," she said. "I realized that if I pair my knowledge in environmental and chemical engineering, I can help design catalysts and develop processes that make a difference."   

Carneiro has received many other awards for her research including the Ralph H. Kummler Award for Distinguished Achievement in Graduate Student Research, the Summer Dissertation Award for Advanced Ph.D. Students and the Olbrot Travel Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Research. The latter covered Carneiro's travel expenses to New Hampshire.   

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