Cumings Wins Clark School's Junior Faculty Outstanding Research Award

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MSE Assistant Professor John Cumings.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) assistant professor John Cumings is the recipient of the A. James Clark School of Engineering's 2011 Junior Faculty Outstanding Research Award. The award was instituted in 2010 by Dean Darryll Pines to recognize exceptionally influential research accomplishments by junior faculty.

Cumings was cited for his development of a novel in-situ thermal electron microscopy imaging technique, his design of multiferroic device structures with unique functionalities, and his leadership role in a project that synthesized of one-of-a-kind lithiated silicon nanostructures for future advanced batteries.

Cumings, who earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2002, joined MSE in 2005 and was quickly recognized for his successful and innovative research program. In 2006 and 2007, he received rare back-to-back invitations to present his work on paramagnetic semiconductors and artificial spin ice at the American Physical Society's annual national meeting. He has been active in the growth of the Nanoscale Imaging, Spectroscopy and Properties (NISP) Laboratory, the university's premiere electron microscopy research and training facility, and leads the University of Maryland Energy Frontier Research Center's nanowire team. His work has been sponsored by grants from the Agilent Corporation, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Engergy. In 2011 he received a NSF CAREER Award.

"Since his arrival at the university, Professor Cumings has had a tremendous impact on the research programs in the department," says MSE professor and chair Robert M. Briber. "His expertise in understanding the physics of materials at the nanoscale and making direct measurements of material properties while simultaneously observing them at high resolution in the electron microscope is a remarkable accomplishment."

Outside of the lab, Cumings has been active in improving the education of students and young scientists ranging from undergraduate to postdoctoral levels. As a Keystone Professor, he is part of a team of faculty members dedicated to excellence in the teaching of fundamental engineering courses and the retention of first year students. In 2010 he was a co-PI on a proposal that brought a $15 million National Institute of Standards and Technology grant to the Maryland NanoCenter to develop and implement a Postdoctoral Researcher and Visiting Fellow Measurement Science and Engineering Program.

Cumings' colleague, MSE affiliate professor Michael Zachariah (Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry & Biochemistry), is the recipient of the Clark School's 2011 Senior Faculty Outstanding Research Award. Zachariah was recognized for achievements including pioneering the development of new characterization tools for studying nanoparticles and use of these tools to further our understanding of the properties of nanoparticles in these fields.

Published October 10, 2011