We are delighted to announce the panel of judges for this years' Embracing Challenge Award.


Professor Jun Lou

Jun Lou obtained B.E. and M.S. degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from Tsinghua University and Ohio State University, respectively, and his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Princeton Materials Institute at Princeton University. After a brief postdoc at Brown University he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University, and currently is a full professor and the associate chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering. He is also a professor of Chemistry by courtesy. He is the site director for NSF IUCRC Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings (ATOMIC). He is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Materials Today and serves as an editorial board member for several international journals.

Lou directs the Nanomaterials, Nanomechanics and Nanodevices Lab (N3L) at Rice University. His research interests include nanomaterial synthesis, nanomechanical characterization and nanodevice fabrication for energy, environmental and biomedical applications. Lou is a 2008 AFOSR Young Investigator and a recipient of the 2007 ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, and the 2015 Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement at Rice. 

Professor Gleb Yushin

Gleb Yushin is a Professor in the School of Materials & Engineering and the Director of the Center for Nanostructured Materials for Energy Storage at Georgia Institute of Technology. Since 2011, Dr. Yushin has been serving as a Chief Science Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors at Sila Nanotechnologies, Inc., an engineered materials company focused on dramatically improving energy storage technologies. Since 2016, Dr. Yushin has been serving as an Editor-in-Chief for Materials Today, the flagship journal of the Materials Today family, dedicated to covering the most innovative, cutting edge and influential work of broad interest to the materials science community. Dr. Yushin received a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science from North Carolina State University (NC, USA) and a M.S. degree in Physics from the Polytechnic Institute (Saint-Petersburg, Russia). The current research activities of his laboratory are focused on synthesis and characterization of nanostructured and nanocomposite materials for use in advanced lithium–ion, aqueous and solid state batteries, supercapacitors and lightweight structural materials and composites.

Panel Members

Professor Srikumar Banerjee

Dr. Srikumar Banerjee started his career in the Metallurgy Division of the BARC in 1968. He later became scientific officer at the Centre, then Head of the Metallurgy Division in 1990, and being Director of the Materials Group at BARC, he became Director of the whole Centre over the period 2004–2010. BARC is the cradle of India’s nuclear energy programme, with about 16000 employees and over 4000 scientists and engineers. From November 2009 to April 2012, he was the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, & Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. He is also currently Chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir and Chancellor of the Homi Bhabha National Institute of the Department of Atomic Energy.

Professor Hui-Ming Cheng

Dr. Hui-Ming Cheng is Professor and Director of Advanced Carbon Research Division of Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science, Institute of Metal Research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He worked at AIST-Kyushu from 1990 to 1992 and Nagasaki University from 1992 to 1993 in Japan, and at MIT in USA from 1997 to 1998.
His research activities mainly focus on the synthesis, properties and applications of carbon nanotubes, graphene, energy storage materials, photocatalytic semiconducting materials, and high-performance bulk carbon materials. He published over 350 peer-reviewed papers on Nature, Nature Mater., Nature Commun., PNAS, Adv. Mater., JACS, Angew. Chemie, Adv. Funct. Mater., Adv. Energy Mater., ACS Nano, J. Mater. Chem., Carbon, etc. He has received several international and national awards, including National Natural Science Award (2nd class) in 2006, the Charles E. Pettinos Award (American Carbon Society, USA) in 2010, and the Prize for Scientific and Technological Progress of Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation in 2010. He is the Editor of Carbon since 2000 and the Editor-in-Chief of New Carbon Materials since 1998. Prof. Cheng was the co-chairman of the World Conference on Carbon in 2002 (Beijing) and 2011 (Shanghai), and he has given more than 60 plenary/keynote/invited talks in international conferences and symposia.

Professor Osvaldo Novais De Oliveira Jr

Prof. Osvaldo N. Oliveira Jr. is a full professor at the São Carlos Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil, and currently the President of the Brazilian Materials Research Society. He received his PhD Degree from Bangor University, Wales, in 1990, and since then has led research into the fabrication of novel materials in the form of ultrathin films obtained with the Langmuir-Blodgett and self-assembly techniques. Most of this work has been associated with fundamental properties of ultrathin films with molecular control, but technological aspects have also been addressed in specific projects, including applications of electronic tongues and the use of chitosan nanostructured films in textiles. Prof. Oliveira is one of the founders of the Interinstitutional Center for Computational Linguistics (NILC), which is a leading institute for natural language processing of Portuguese. In recent years, Prof. Oliveira has pioneered the combined use of methods from distinct fields of science, with the merge of methods of statistical physics and computer science to process text, and use of information visualization to enhance the performance of sensing and biosensing. In 2006, Prof. Oliveira was awarded the Scopus Prize from Elsevier, with other 15 Brazilian scientists considered most productive in terms of number of papers and citations. He has served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology since January, 2007, of Display and Imaging, since 2015.

Professor Enrique J. Lavernia

Dr. Enrique J. Lavernia is Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for the University of California, Irvine and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Sciences. In 2016, he received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award as well as the Leadership Award from the TMS Society.  In 2015 he was inducted into the Hispanic Hall of Fame by the HEENAC Great Minds in STEM.  In 2014 he was awarded the TMS Fellows Award Class of 2014 by the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.  Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2013, Dr. Lavernia is also a fellow of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the Materials Research Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and ASM International. He is recipient of the 2013 Edward DeMille Campbell Memorial Lectureship and the 2013 ASM International Gold Medal Award.  Lavernia has published more than 500 journal and 200 conference publications and been awarded 12 patents (2 pending) His research interests include the synthesis and behavior of nanostructured and multi-scale materials with particular emphasis on processing fundamentals and physical behavior. He earned his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Professor Ifor Samuel

Ifor Samuel is Professor of Physics at the University of St Andrews.  He received his MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge, working on optical spectroscopy of organic semiconductors.  He was a Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge and also performed postdoctoral work at CNET-France Telecom in Paris, before setting his own research group on light-emitting polymers at the University of Durham.  In 2000 he moved to the University of St Andrews where he founded and leads the Organic Semiconductor Centre.  His current work concerns the photophysics of organic semiconductor materials and devices including organic light-emitting diodes, solar cells, lasers and their applications, and he has published more than 400 journal papers.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute of Physics, SPIE and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor Karen Scrivener

Karen Scrivener, a British national, was born in 1958. During her career, her work and research dealt with the following areas: Identification of microstuctural development during cement hydration. Elaboration of a multitechnical approach to study the microstucture of cements and concretes, with emphasis on the quantification by analysis of the images of retrodiffused electrons. Characterization of the transitional aureole of the cement paste around the aggregates. Understanding of the concreting processes of concrete, in particular the swelling associated with the formation of delayed ettringite in steamed concretes.

Professor Susan Sinnott

Professor Susan B. Sinnott is Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a Professor of both Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Iowa State University. Susan was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate at the Naval Research Laboratory and was on the faculty at the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida prior to joining Penn State in 2015.

Research in the Sinnott Group is focused on the application of computational methods at the electronic-structure and atomic scales to examine a variety of materials and processes. These include the design of new materials and the investigation of the influence of grain boundaries, point defects, dopants, and heterogeneous interfaces on material properties.

A major area of emphasis is the development of inventive methods to enable the modeling of new material systems at the atomic level. Susan is the author of 260+ technical publications, including 230+ refereed journal publications. She is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society, American Physical Society, American Ceramic Society, American Vacuum Society, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Susan is a past President of the American Vacuum Society and is the Editor-in-Chief of Computational Materials Science.