MSE Graduate Student Profile: Parag Banerjee

"I am interested in research that has social relevance and an immediate impact on society....I think our understanding of the nano will help us one day to find solutions to great problems, energy being one of them."

- Parag Banerjee

parag banerjee

  • Hometown: Chandigarh, India
  • B.S., Metallurgical Engineering, I.I.T., Roorkee, India
  • M.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Washington State University
  • Advisor: Professor Gary Rubloff
  • Started Program: Fall 2006

We chatted with Parag to learn more about his experiences in the graduate program in materials science and engineering, and to find out why he chose the University of Maryland for his studies.

Who is your advisor, and in which lab do you work?

Professor [Gary] Rubloff is my advisor. I work in the Laboratory for Advanced Materials Processing (LAMP).

Please tell us about your research.

I am interested in energy harvesting and energy storage devices using conventional semiconductor processes and, of late, self-assembled techniques for nano-fabrication. Energy harvesting devices include but are not limited to solar cells. Energy storage devices include but are not limited to supercapacitors and batteries.

If these devices are going to be commercialized they need to be integrated with the current processes available. At the same time the devices need to be cheap. These varied process requirements mean that one has to be creative in one's approach and yet come up with devices that possess improved performance characteristics.

What is your highest hope for your research?  What would be the most rewarding outcome or result?

I would like to use my research idea/thesis in an entrepreneurial endeavor.

How did you become interested in materials science and engineering and/or the research you're doing now?

I am interested in research that has social relevance and an immediate impact on society. Energy-related research is going to dominate the landscape in the coming decades. At the same time our ability to control materials at the nanoscale is increasing with every passing day. I think our understanding of the nano will help us one day to find solutions to great problems, energy being one of them.

Why did you choose UMD? What appealed to you about the Clark School?

I had a very long conversation with Professor Rubloff when I was scouting for prospective graduate schools. I was struck by the common research goals and interests that both of us shared.

The Clark School is highly interdisciplinary. There are so many cross collaborations going on amongst professors of various departments‚it is a very vibrant atmosphere! It reminds you of a large company where there is no distinction made between an electrical engineering or a chemical engineering or a materials science problem. The field is open for anyone to crack it!

What is the best thing about your experience here so far?

The research facilities are the best!

What would you like to do after completing your studies here?

Academia, for sure!

What advice do you have for undergraduates considering graduate studies in MSE?

This is a great time to join graduate studies in MSE. The need in the industry is great and the research institutions can't have enough of us. What we are witnessing is a re-merging and re-morphing of basic sciences with engineering and materials science and engineering is one of the few branches which is benefiting from this.

I did spend 6 years in the semiconductor industry before returning to school. Getting some industry experience could be helpful and encouraging for people who are out there and want to come back for an advanced degree, but haven't quite made up their minds.

What do you like about living in the Washington, D.C. area?  What do you like to do when you're not in the lab? 

I like the proximity we have with Washington, D.C. Its vibrant and diverse cultural life and tons of museums make it a great place to spend your weekends. If you are interested in outdoor activities, then Virginia has tons of state and national parks to go to for camping and hiking. If you like to spend some time on the beaches, those are only a few hours away as well.

Parag received his Ph.D. in 2011.