Gurnani and Athena

Congratulations to MSE alumnus Dr. Rishi Gurnani and ECE Ph.D. graduate Fabia Farlin Athena for each receiving a 2023 Graduate Student Award from the Materials Research Society (MRS). This prestigious award honors exceptional graduate students for their academic achievements and cutting-edge materials research.

Gurnani currently researches materials informatics and works as a Director of Software Engineering and Algorithms at Matmerize. He received the MRS Graduate Student Award for his groundbreaking research on high-energy-density dielectrics under the supervision of MSE Professor Rampi Ramprasad.

Gurnani explained, “Using machine learning models that I developed, I discovered new dielectrics that were predicted to exhibit remarkable energy density at high temperatures. These dielectrics were synthesized and characterized by our collaborators, Dr. Gregory Sotzing and Dr. Yang Cao, at the University of Connecticut. Their results confirmed our predictions in stunning fashion: our new polymer displays an 11x increase in energy density at 200°C compared to leading alternatives.”

“Winning the Graduate Student Award (GSA) is a tremendous honor that I cherish deeply,” Gurnani said. “As the premier society for materials researchers, being acknowledged by the Materials Research Society places me alongside brilliant minds in science and industry. Interacting with fellow awardees, engaging in enriching discussions on their research, and forming lasting connections made this experience unforgettable.”

Professor Ramprasad highlighted the novelty and significance of Gurnani’s research on polymers: “Not only has Rishi developed and implemented state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to accelerate the design of new polymers, but he has also collaborated with other groups to have such polymers synthesized and tested in the lab, thus validating his designs. One class of such AI-designed polymers displays record-breaking electrical energy storage performance at high temperatures, beating the current standard material by an order of magnitude in performance. This is an impressive achievement.”

Athena was selected for the award in recognition of her innovative research on emerging materials and devices for brain-inspired computing. “I am deeply honored and delighted to receive the MRS Graduate Student Award,” she said. “I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my advisor, Professor Eric M. Vogel, for his unwavering support and guidance, as well as to Professor Samuel Graham for his invaluable contributions to my academic journey.”

MSE Professor Vogel commended Athena for her achievement. “Athena is one of the most driven PhD students I have had the honor of working with,” he remarked. “She has done phenomenal research related to adaptive oxides and other materials for neuromorphic computing. The 2023 MRS Graduate Student Award is just one of many awards that she has received recognizing her impact, and I look forward to watching her continued accomplishments as she moves forward in her career.”

Athena also recently became the first Georgia Tech student to be selected for the prestigious Stanford Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship.