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Junior Faculty Receive Prestigious NSF Early Career Awards

Author: Barbara Villarosa


ND Energy congratulates Dr. Haifeng Gao and Dr. Vlad Iluc, assistant professors in Chemistry, for their prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. CAREER Awards focus on a specific theme spanning a 5-year period.

CAREER: SusChEM: Develop Unprecedented Chain-growth Polymerization Method to Access Structurally Defined Hyperbranched Polymers

Dr. Haifeng Gao

Gao’s research program focuses on developing a facile one-pot one-batch polymerization method that can prepare functional polymers with highly branched structures and very narrow size distribution. The research program is integrated with an education plan to develop undergraduate-level polymer courses and outreach activities to include an annual Notre Dame Soft Materials Symposium and Science Fair to stimulate academic-industrial collaboration and to engage the participation of local high school students and teachers. More information about Dr. Gao’s research can be found on his Website.

CAREER: Nucleophilic, Radical, and Electrophilic Palladium Carbene Complexes: New Types of Reactivity For Palladium

Dr. Vlad Iluc

Iluc’s research program focuses on developing new tools for the selective reaction of hydrogen atoms bonded to common elements such as carbon, oxygen, boron, nitrogen and silicon. In this project, new approaches that involve metal-ligand cooperation are being developed to facilitate chemical transformations under mild conditions. This work is expected to have environmental and societal impact by providing basic knowledge that allows the development of catalytic processes involving water, alcohol, and amines, which are readily available chemical feedstocks. The educational component involves an outreach program that focuses on mentoring students from underrepresented socio-economic groups in science and will promote their recruitment into STEM-based careers. More information about Dr. Iluc’s research can be found on his Website.

Gao and Iluc have served as Notre Dame faculty members since 2011, joining ND Energy affiliated faculty to help advance energy-related research in the areas of carbon capture and conversion, catalysis, fuel cells, and storage.


Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at on March 17, 2016.