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Invited Speakers' Bios and Abstracts

Linda Sapochak

Materials Science and Engineering Grand Challenges, Evolving Capabilities, and the Push for Convergent Research

Linda Sapochak
division director for the Division of Materials Research,
at the National Science Foundation

Brief BIO

Dr. Linda Sapochak is the division director for the Division of Materials Research (DMR) at NSF. She has worked in DMR since 2008 as program director for the Solid State and Materials Chemistry (SSMC) program (5 years), for the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program in 2014, and as deputy division Director in 2015. Dr. Sapochak also served as the Acting Deputy Division Director in the Chemistry Division in 2013 and 2014. She has managed additional projects including the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation: Green Sustainable Buildings, Sustainable Energy Pathways, and I-Corps. Prior to her position at NSF, she was an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She later accepted a position at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a DOE national lab in the Energy and Efficiency Division to develop organic and inorganic electronic materials for solid state lighting applications. She has over 50 scientific publications and 16 patents.


Two key goals in the field of materials research are to discover new materials and gain an improved understanding of materials and phenomena. Often the focus is placed on elucidating the relationships between processing, structure, and properties to enable the creation of better and more functional materials. Discoveries and advancements reflect the breadth of practitioners. Material researchers draw from a medley of backgrounds – with expertise in e.g., biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, manufacturing, mathematics and physics. From this foundation, they explore the quantum and classical worlds at length scales ranging from the atomic and molecular to the macro in the pursuit of new knowledge about our solid-state world. The next new communication device (cell phone, television, personal fitness monitor), automobile (electric and hybrid vehicles), and key transportation structure (such as roads and bridges) we rely on everyday exists because of advances in materials. Materials have played a central role in human societal progress as far back as the Stone Age, when humankind began to use tools, and fast forwarding to the Silicon Age with the invention of the transistor and modern-day electronics. Let’s face it, we live in a “material world” and increasingly, as society's needs become more complex, so do the demands on materials researchers.

Today, material researchers have a higher responsibility to help the world meet the challenges facing society. Although materials research has expanded to include several disciplines and is inherently “interdisciplinary”, this is not enough. The requirements have (once again) increased due to the growing complexity of societal problems and their solutions. Materials researchers are now challenged to change their modes of operating to have cyclic synergism (“closing the loop”) with systems-level thinking (alongside the required deep exploration and understanding of details into fundamental mechanisms). Also, the field of materials research needs to further expand to embrace data and manufacturing scientists and to more fully engage environmental, social, and economic sciences. This presentation will explore the current landscape of materials research in the U.S. and how research communities will tackle a growing number of challenges going forward.

Shashank Priya

Wireless Power (WiPOWER) for a Cordless World

Shashank Priya
professor of materials science and engineering, The Pennsylvania State University


Shashank Priya is currently professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State and adjunct professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research is focused in the areas related to multifunctional materials, energy, and bio-inspired systems. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed journal papers and more than 60 conference proceedings covering these topics. Additionally, he has published five US patents and five books. He is currently serving as the editorial board member of the journal Integrated Ferroelectrics and is a member of the Honorary Chair Committee for the International Workshop on Piezoelectric Materials and Applications (IWPMA). Shashank has received several awards including: Alumni Award for Excellence in Research 2014, Fellow American Ceramic Society 2013, Turner Fellowship 2012, Dean’s Research Excellence Award 2011, and AFOSR Young Investigator Award.


Wireless power transfer has the potential to create a “Cordless World” by providing static and dynamic power charging technologies for vehicles, devices in homes and hospitals, and devices on/in the human body. This technology can address the National Grand Challenge to “Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure / Advance Health Informatics” by providing foundational technologies required for wireless, tether-free power to daily use devices ranging from low-power medical sensors to high-power electric vehicles. However, several advances must be made in the field of WPT before the technology can be widely implemented. This panel will discuss the challenges that exist at materials, circuits, and systems levels and attempt to identify the pathway in resolving these challenges. Panelists will discuss efforts in methodology to create a technology roadmap, and regulations and standards that can assist industry in projecting the product development. Panel will also provide guidance on the process that can be used to develop the commercialization partners network and how a multi-disciplinary approach can be developed to address the issues critical for the technology to be adopted.


  • Brad Hoff – senior research physicist, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Jeff Cain – director, AVX Corporation
  • Paul Ohodnicki – materials scientist, materials engineering & manufacturing directorate, National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Tarun Chawla – technical manager, business development, Remcom Inc.
  • Mehdi Kiani – assistant professor of electrical engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

Todd Palmer

Advances in Powder Processing

Todd Palmer
professor of engineering, science, and mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University


Dr. Todd Palmer is a professor of engineering science and mechanics and materials science and engineering and the director of the Center for Innovative Sintered Products (CISP) at Penn State.

Previously, he was a metallurgist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a senior scientist at the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State. His current research focuses on the laser and electron beam joining and additive manufacturing of metallic materials as well as the characterization and processing of metallic powders. He has nearly 20 years of experience in high energy density joining of metallic systems and is the author of more than 80 articles and reports as well as the chair of the C7 Committee on High Energy Beam Welding and Cutting for the American Welding Society. Dr. Palmer has also recently been elected a fellow of the American Welding Society.


Metal and ceramic powders are widely used in the fabrication of a range of complex components and are the basis for mature and emerging industries. Among these diverse fields are press and sinter powder metallurgy (P/M), thermal spray coatings, cladding and hardfacing, and additive manufacturing (AM). The underlying fundamental knowledge of powder particle characteristics, packing, compaction, and sintering is well established, but new advances in AM and related fields are pushing the limits of our current understanding and opening up new areas for research. For example, metal powders are the primary feedstock material used in the vast majority of currently available AM machines, and the P/M industry is uniquely situated to drive new innovations. Even within traditional industries, new techniques for cold sintering, microwave sintering, and spark plasma sintering are opening up these processes to much more rapid speeds and new material systems. Current capabilities of traditional P/M processes will be explored, along with the scientific gaps emerging with advances in powder-based materials processing, leading to a path forward for addressing these gaps and opening up new research directions and thrusts for powders and particulate materials.


Daudi Waryoba - associate professor of engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, DuBois


  • Steve Feldbauer – director of research and development, Abott Furnace
  • Joe Strauss – president, JHE, Inc.
  • Andrzej Wojcieszynski – senior technical director, ATI Powders
  • Craig Stringer – senior metallugical engineer, Atlas Pressed Metals
  • Magnus Ahlfors – applications engineer, Quintus Technologies
  • James Adams – executive director/CEO, Metal Powder Industries Federation

Enrique Gomez

Translating and Evolving Nanoscale Assembly for Society

Enrique Gomez
professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, The Pennsylvania State University


Enrique Gomez is a professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, and the Materials Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida in 2002 and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2007. After a year and a half as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University with Lynn Loo, he joined the faculty at Penn State in August of 2009. Enrique’s research focus is on understanding how structure at various length scales affects macroscopic properties of soft condensed matter. In particular, the current emphasis of his research group is on the relationship between microstructure and macroscopic properties in the active layers of organic thin film transistors, photovoltaics, water filtration membranes, solid electrolytes, and plant cell walls. Enrique has received multiple awards, including a Visiting Scientist Fellowship from the National Center for

Electron Microscopy, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the NSF CAREER Award, the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award, and the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Research Award. He has also been selected as an Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research Influential Researcher in 2017, and a Soft Matter Emerging Investigator in 2017.


Recent work has demonstrated tremendous advancements in the control of microstructure and properties of polymers and composites. For example, cold sintering, where co-sintering of organic/inorganic materials at low temperatures is possible, enables integration of components and new types of composites that are otherwise inaccessible. In conjunction with strategies to control the hierarchical structure of nanocomposites, cold sintering provides tremendous opportunities for new materials. Nevertheless, these advancements mostly remain relevant only at the research scale, with limited impact to society. Addressing the engineering challenges in controlling the microstructure during large-scale fabrication is needed to enable a plethora of new transformative applications, such as in advanced structural components, energy applications, and water filtration modules. This panel aims to identify the work that will bridge this gap between the lab and societal impact. We will discuss what is needed to develop large-area, scalable approaches to harness self-assembly in real-world components and applications. An emphasis will be placed on the “grand challenges” in composites, and the potential opportunities to address pressing needs in society.


Michael Hickner, professor of materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
Alicyn Rhoades, associate professor of engineering, The Pennsylvania State University Behrend Campus


  • Richard Vaia – lead for nanoMaterials for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Sanut Kumar – professor of chemical engineering, Columbia University
  • Dave Okonski – research engineer, General Motors

Janis Terpenny

Intelligent Design and Manufacturing

Janis Terpenny
Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Department Head of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University


Dr. Janis Terpenny is the Peter & Angela Dal Pezzo Chair & Department Head of the Harold & Inge Marcus Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University. She is also the director of the Center for e-Design, an NSF industry/university cooperative research center (I/UCRC) that brings 7 universities and 25+ industry/agency members together in solving pressing problems associated with the design, manufacture, delivery, and sustainment of innovative, high quality, lower cost products. Industry and community partnerships are key to the impact of her research, teaching, and service. Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Terpenny served as the department chair of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University and served as the first technology lead for the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise (AME) area for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). She has also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and been a professor at Virginia Tech and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has 9 years of industry work experience with the General Electric Company (GE), including the completion of a 2-year corporate management program. She is a Fellow of IISE, a Fellow of ASME, and a member of ASEE, INFORMS, Alpha Pi Mu, and Tau Beta Pi. She is currently the chair of the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Heads (CIEADH).


Thanks to rapidly advancing technologies, the feasibility and interest in developing and implementing intelligence into how products, systems, and processes are designed, created, and operate have escalated. Intelligence holds much promise to shrink the time from concept to deployment and operation, lower costs, increase quality, improve safety, and much more. Collaborative infrastructures that integrate humans and/or machines are a core aspect of intelligent environments as well. Those who stand to benefit include a wide range of sectors such as aerospace, energy, automotive, medical devices, defense, consumer products, and services. While advances are growing, opportunities abound, with much work yet to be accomplished to wholly embrace and implement intelligence throughout the entire value stream.

This breakout session provides participants with the opportunity to hear from panelists who are thought leaders and pioneers in the domain of intelligent design and manufacturing, on their views of how far we have come and where the next big challenges/opportunities lie. The second half of this 2-hour session will be an open dialogue with attendees, contributing to discussion with particular focus on industry/university partnerships and creative ideas around growing the talent pipeline and addressing the critical need to improve the transition of research to practice.

Tours of facilities and laboratories aligned with intelligent design and manufacturing will be available later in the afternoon.


Daniel Finke, assistant research professor in the product engineering department, Applied Research Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University


  • Mike Warburton – vice president, Technology Integration and Strategic Accounts, Belcan

  • Bruce Kramer – senior adviser, Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation, National Science Foundation

  • Bill Tice – director of modernization and innovation, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems

  • Hui Yang – associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

  • Magdi Azer – chief technology officer, REMADE Institute

Qiming Zhang

Advanced Solid State Electrical-Thermal (ET) Cooling Technologies

Qiming Zhang
distinguished professor of electrical engineering, The Pennsylvania State University


Dr. Zhang joined Penn State in 1991. His research area is in novel electronic materials, especially soft electronic materials and ferroelectric based materials, and their device applications. The research conducted in his group covers a broad range of applications of solid state electronic materials such as electromechanical, dielectric, photonic and electro-optic, and pyroelectric applications. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institute of Health, and many industrial companies.


Cooling technologies for refrigeration and air conditioning form a critical pillar of modern society. They provide healthy living conditions, create environments for high productivity and efficiency, and maintain optimum working conditions for a broad range of advanced technologies. Unfortunately, cooling consumes more than 20% of electricity in the US. Air conditioning in summer also overloads the electric grid. Hence, there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency of cooling technologies. Modern cooling technologies are predominantly based on the century-old technology of vapor compression cycle (VCC) based cooling. After many decades of improvement, VCC is approaching its fundamental efficiency limit, but remains far below the thermodynamic limit (the Carnot efficiency). Moreover, refrigerant gases in the current VCC systems are also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emission (~ 25%). The modernization of developing countries will lead to increased usage of refrigeration and air conditioning, thus increasing greenhouse gas emission. All of these factors drive the development of alternative cooling technologies which could be more efficient and have zero greenhouse gas emission. In the past several decades, there has been a great deal of effort devoted to investigating alternative cooling technologies.

Electrocaloric effect (ECE) is the temperature and entropy change in dielectric materials induced by applied electric field change. ECE is underpinned by the electric field-polarization coupling which is a very efficient energy conversion form, approaching 100% efficiency. However, the small ECE observed in dielectrics in the past (< 1.5 oC temperature change near room temperature) makes them not attractive for practical applications. Since 2008, we discovered and developed > 10X improvement in the EC cooling near room temperature in a class of relaxor polymer. Studies also show potential in generating large ECE in ferroelectric ceramics. Preliminary EC cooling prototypes show > 25% efficiency improvement over VCC based cooling.

In this breakout session, the panelists will discuss with the audience the potential of EC cooling, as well as critical barriers and challenges in transitioning the materials discoveries to practical and high performance EC coolers. In addition to higher efficiency, the compressor-free and compact size (to chip-scale) EC coolers may also provide solutions to cooling applications which are not possible with the current VCC based cooling. This topic will also be discussed.


  • Tom Radcliff – principal, Thermal Fluid Systems Innovations, LLC
  • Alex Ratner –  assistant professor of mechanical engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Shihai Zhang – president, PolyK

Jose Duarte

Smart Cities

José Duarte
Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation, director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, The Pennsylvania State University


Dr. José Pinto Duarte is the Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation and director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing (SCDC). An accomplished scholar with a record of innovative leadership, Duarte guides the ongoing research and direction of the SCDC. After obtaining his doctoral degree from MIT, Duarte returned to Portugal where he helped launch groundbreaking technology-oriented architecture degrees and programs in two different schools, as well as a digital prototyping and fabrication lab. Most recently, he served as dean of the Technical University of Lisbon School of Architecture (FA). Duarte has an impressive record of uniting academic research and industry, as well as fostering multi-national partnerships. He has served as president of eCAADe, a European association devoted to education and research in computer-aided architectural design. He also helped establish the MIT–Portugal program, and created the Design and Computation research group, which boasts a strong record of interdisciplinary and collaborative research efforts funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and private companies.

His research interests are in the use of computation to support context-sensitive design at different scales from urban design to architecture and materials design. His latest research focuses on the additive manufacturing of concrete structures.


Smart cities refers to the use of digital technologies to improve the efficiency of cities and foster the well-being of their inhabitants. This session explores ideas and solutions to support this concept of smart city from a variety of perspectives. Some of the ideas to explore include: novel forms of planning, smart textiles and buildings, energy production and management, energy storage for electric vehicles, and autonomous vehicle performance and safety. The focus is on place-making, materials and related technologies.


Lisa D. Iulo, associate professor of architecture, The Pennsylvania State University


  • Shannon Redd –  government/education IoT specialist, Cisco
  • Felecia Davis –  assistant professor of architecture, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Raymond Gastil –  director, Department of City Planning City of Pittsburgh
  • Kent Larson –  princpal research scientist, MIT Media Lab

NOTE: Information subject to change.