Naomi Deneke, Lauren Garten

Experts from the School of Materials Science and Engineering share their predictions and expectations for 2023

Naomi Deneke 
President’s Postdoctoral Fellow

Naomi Deneke is one of seven members of the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PPFP), which encourages outstanding women and minority Ph.D. recipients to pursue academic careers. Her research interests revolve around designing functional soft materials through physical and mechanical manipulation, while also focusing on creating sustainable adhesives for packaging materials. 

Plastic waste is a growing international challengeThe Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts global waste generation will triple by the year 2060. While efforts to improve recycling of plastic waste has increased in the last decade, the rate of waste generation far surpasses that of recycling, and increasingly more complex materials systems renders traditional recycling methods inefficient and outdated. Looking forward to 2023 and beyond, research in plastic sustainability should address all stages in the lifecycle of plastic materials in order to create a circular economy. This includes the selection of raw materials, design of plastic material systems, and improvement of manufacturing and recycling methods. Perhaps what is most needed are methods for assessing how “sustainable” or “circular” these new materials or processes are. 

Georgia Tech has taken the lead in pushing innovative environmental sustainability research forward with the establishment of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute and the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. But what's even more exciting is seeing young activists from across the globe use their voices and take action to advocate for environmental causes. I am truly looking forward to working with the next generation of researchers and activists in the coming years and co-contributing to the development of environmental sustainability research. 

Lauren Garten
Assistant Professor

Lauren Garten’s research focuses on developing new materials for energy and electronic applications. Her group investigates how material properties can be coupled to create new functionalities or enhanced performance, with a specific focus on the synthesis and characterization of ferroelectric thin films and multiferroic heterostructures. 
I think that 2023 will be an interesting year for electronic materials research. There will be significant investments in microelectronics development from the CHIPS Act and similar initiatives in the Department of Defense. Hopefully, this will translate into more jobs for our students
, and more opportunities for the research of novel electronic materials. With many different approaches and materials competing to become the future of traditional and quantum computing, this next year could see breakthroughs that define an era.

But my optimism is somewhat tempered by the continued supply chain issues. For example, many of the laser gases used by the semiconducting industry will be in short supply. We will have to become more resourceful in production and research. Thinking outside the box will become necessary not only for generating research concepts but also for completing basic tasks. Overall, I think that there is great potential for change, both good and bad, in the coming year.   

Content is taken from the original story posted by the College of Engineering.