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Research in Nanoscience Earns Professor Highly Competitive NSF Award

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Erin D. McKenzie
Brankovic
Brankovic

Stanko Brankovic, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, has received one of the most prestigious National Science Foundation honors given to junior faculty members.

The second faculty member from the department to earn the honor this year, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award recognizes individuals most likely to become academic leaders based on their performance as researchers and educators early in their career. It will support Brankovic’s nanoscience research as well as educational outreach efforts.

“This award recognizes my research ideas and efforts in the field of electrochemical material synthesis and nanofabrication,” said Brankovic. “It gives recognition to my research group and my students as well, and it offers great motivation and drive for excellence in my future work.”

Using the five-year, $550,000 grant from NSF, Brankovic will delve deeper into exactly how the size of a material can effect its behavior. He will use both electrochemical and chemical fabrication methods to synthesize structures and materials to study exactly how they act at the ultra-tiny nanoscale.

“At this level, the physical and chemical properties of materials can differ,” Brankovic said, noting he will attempt to learn how to manipulate properties of these materials at this scale to develop new products and technologies that could greatly impact the way we live—increasing the energy efficiency of everyday devices even making sensors more efficient.

He plans to do this by collaborating with researchers at national labs, other universities and colleges within UH. The work will also engage both graduates and undergraduates in the study, which is focused specifically on nanofabrication, thin film growth and electrocatalysis.

Brankovic earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical and biochemical engineering from the University of Belgrade in 1994 and his Ph.D. in science and engineering of materials at Arizona State University in 1999. Before accepting a faculty position at the University of Houston in 2005, he spent two years as a postdoctoral associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory and four years as a research staff member at Seagate Research Center. Throughout his career, he has published more than 30 papers, some of which have appeared in Science and Nano Letters.

In addition to being a member of the electrical and computer engineering faculty at the Cullen College, he holds joint appointments in the chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry departments. Brankovic, who has three patents, is also a recipient of the Junior Faculty Research Award given by the college for the 2008-09 academic year.

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