MSE PhD Student Receives 3-Year NASA Fellowship

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Emily Hitz, a PhD student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UMD, has recently received an Aeronautics Scholarships and Advanced STEM Training and Research Fellowship (AS&ASTAR) provided by NASA, for her proposed project, “Robust, Lightweight, and Holey Nanomembranes for Lithium Metal Batteries Toward Safe Electric Aircraft.”

“The overall aim of my project is to use porous nanomaterials to enable safe next-generation batteries that offer high-current charging capabilities and longer battery life between charging,” Hitz said. “To do this, I focused on lithium metal batteries, which can deliver up to 5 times the energy of a lithium ion battery of the same mass. I proposed to use two types of sheet-like nanomaterials with excellent heat transfer properties as a coating inside of lithium metal batteries. This coating should help mitigate the known issues of lithium metal batteries and make the most of the available energy storage. More specifically, I will make and use nanosheets that have small, nanometer-sized holes throughout the material, which will allow the lithium to travel quickly across the battery and make it possible to charge and use the battery at high current rates while maintaining its performance.”

The NASA Education 2017 AS&ASTAR Fellowship provides three years of financial support to individuals who are early in their graduate education and who have demonstrated the potential to contribute to both the ideals of NASA as well as future STEM endeavors. The selection criteria is based on both scientific and academic merit, which made Hitz a strong candidate for this fellowship. Hitz has a B.S. in electrical engineering, previous research experience on her proposed topic, and has won multiple awards as of late including the Clark School of Engineering Dean's Graduate Fellowship, Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society, UMD President's Scholarship (2011-2015), Clark School of Engineering Dean's List (2011-2015) and the Bruce Hartmann Research Presentation Competition.

Hitz, co-advised by Drs. Liangbing Hu and Gary Rubloff, was one of only five students to receive the fellowship this year.  When she’s not hitting the books or working in the lab, she enjoys spending time outdoors and with her family.

Related Media:

NASA Awards Fellowships to Six Graduate Students - NASA, August 2017 

MSE Student Receives Wells Fellowship - UMD, March 2017

Published August 28, 2017