Lacey Wins Nat'l Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

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MSE graduate student Steven Lacey (B.S. ’14).

University of Maryland and Department of Materials Science and Engineering graduate student Steven Lacey (B.S. ’14) has been awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. MSE alumnus Santiago Miret (B.S. ’13), who is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley has also been named a NDSEG Fellow.

Funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) and administered by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the highly competitive fellowships support U.S. citizens pursuing doctoral degrees in one of fifteen disciplines in or related to DoD areas of interest. NDSEG Fellowships were designed to help increase the quality and quantity of U.S. scientists and engineers.

Lacey works at the University of Maryland Energy Research Center, where he is a member MSE assistant professor Liangbing Hu’s research group. He is exploring the synthesis, modification, and characterization of low-dimensional (1D and 2D) nanomaterials, such as nanowires and graphene, for use in printed electronics, flexible electronics, and energy storage devices.

In one project, Lacey will use in situ characterization and operando spectroscopy techniques to investigate the properties and formation of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), an area that forms where electrodes meet electrolytes in alkali metal (lithium, sodium) ion batteries. Lacey describes SEIs as “the least understood portion” of these devices, and says that the information acquired in his group’s studies could reveal new ways to improve battery performance. He hopes to compliment his experimental work through collaborations with MSE’s faculty experts in computational modeling.

After earning his B.S. in materials science and engineering in 2014, Lacey decided to stay with MSE for his graduate studies. He was motivated by his desire to join Hu's group and to stay close to federal labs and the university's industrial partners.

“Professor Hu is an incredibly productive and creative researcher," he says. "Being mentored by such an outstanding individual will increase my knowledge and experience for my future scientific career.”

Staying at Maryland also made it possible for him to continue a project he began as an undergraduate guest researcher in the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) Electrochemistry Branch. He completed the work as a first-year graduate student, and ultimately first-authored a paper about it that was published in Nano Letters. Lacey is still an ARL guest researcher, and plans to continue his collaborations with Army scientists throughout his graduate career.

After earning his Ph.D., he would like to continue performing fundamental scientific research to advance the development of electrochemical energy storage technologies. “Since it is early in my Ph.D. [studies], I’m still open to different career paths such as becoming a university professor, a government scientist or an industrial researcher,” he says.

NDSEG fellows are selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Army Research Office (ARO).

Published April 23, 2015