2007 Slatt Fellows named

Author: Arts and Letters


Five University of Notre Dame students are the recipients of the 2007 Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship awards for undergraduate research in the field of energy systems and processes, according to Joan F. Brennecke, Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

They are: Joseph Basconi and Shawn Coleman, both sophomores in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Patrick Brown, a sophomore from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Kyle Kron, a sophomore in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; and Felipe Witchger, a junior pursuing energy studies and economics.

Currently in its second year, the Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship was created by 1980 Notre Dame graduate Christopher Slatt and his wife, Jeanine Slatt, in honor of Christopher’s father, Vincent P. Slatt, a 1943 alumnus and the founder of the National Rural Utilities Finance Corporation (CFA). CFC provides financing for more than 1,050 electric cooperatives which serve more than 39 million people nationwide (12 percent of U.S. consumers) and account for approximately 5 percent of the country’s electricity generating capacity.

The Slatt program recognizes and supports energy-related research activities of undergraduates, from the use of fossil fuels and nuclear and renewable energy sources to the development of biofuels and more efficient transportation and energy utilization systems. Each year, undergraduates are invited to submit proposals for consideration of financial support of up to $5,000 to conduct hands-on research in energy-related areas.

Selected projects, which cover a wide range of topics, will begin this summer and run through the 2007-08 academic year. In addition to a statement of career objectives, each student must provide a project title, description of research objectives, and anticipated budget. Students also are required to present their findings at a professional research conference.

Basconi plans to analyze the impact of daylight-savings time on energy consumption in Indiana. His adviser is Jeffrey C. Kantor, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Collaborating with adviser Prashant V. Kamat, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Brown will study single-wall carbon nanotube based photochemical solar cells, focusing on the desired properties for harvesting light energy.

Coleman will investigate first-principles prediction of active sites for catalytic hydrogenation, which will provide insight into the development of improved catalytic materials and processes. His adviser is William F. Schneider, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Under the direction of John E. Renaud, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and Vikas Tomar, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, Kron will perform finite element analyses of SiC-Si3N4 nanoceramic composites for high-temperature structural applications, such as earth and space-based power generation systems.

Biofuel development and sustainability in Latin America is the focus of Witchger’s project. His adviser is David F. Ruccio, professor of economics and policy studies.

More information on energy research at Notre Dame is at http://energycenter.nd.edu/ .

Originally published by William G. Gilroy &Nina Welding at newsinfo.nd.edu on May 30, 2007.