What drew you to PME?
It was a big decision for me to join the University of Chicago, as I was well established at the University of Minnesota where I was before. I came here with a joint appointment at PME and the Department of Chemistry. PME is a unique school that has the best of all the more traditional programs. Here I’m able to bridge molecular phenomena theory with the more applied engineering aspects and use my expertise to address relevant problems facing society.
What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at PME?
Though I’ve been here a short time, I’ve been able to start working with other faculty members like David Awschalom, Juan de Pablo, Giulia Galli, Margaret Gardel, Peter Maurer, Stuart Rowan, and Allison Squires. I’m also interested in how to make our science more understandable to the public through art, so I’ve begun talking with Nancy Kawalek of STAGE Lab. The collaborative environment is exciting and pushes me outside of my comfort zone in a good way.
Where do you see PME in 10 years?
I’d like for PME to continue embracing directions of research relevant to society within 10 years. I see us building on research in areas like clean energy and developing new materials for direct CO2 capture to deal with climate change.
PME has done an excellent job building a diverse faculty and student population. In the next 10 years I want to continue our diversity and inclusion work, as well as generating international collaboration, because I think both are crucial for science and the next generation of scientists and engineers.
What breakthroughs do you anticipate will happen in your field in 10 years?
As theorists, we play a crucial role in both studying well-known systems to benchmark theories and developing new, predictive theories. In materials design, for example, we screen many different materials long before they are made in the lab. In 10 years we’ll be working to solve the major problems of our planet—in energy and environment—by a combination of theory, data science, artificial intelligence, and experimentation.