Jonathan Onorato & Mitchell Kaiser win Clean Energy Student Achievement awards
Onorato receives Scientific Achievement Award for work with semiconducting polymers; Kaiser receives Outreach & Service Award for contributions to CEI K-12 education programs
July 6, 2021
Onorato, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Christine Luscombe’s research group, won the Scientific Achievement Award which recognizes UW trainees who have demonstrated extraordinary productivity in clean energy research and scholarship, and have contributed meaningfully to the scientific community. Onorato’s research focuses on semiconducting polymers for flexible and stretchable organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and mixed ionic conductors for energy storage and biosensing applications. OPVs exhibit high power generation to weight ratios and reduced costs when compared to traditional silicon cells, and can be used for applications including portable energy sources for remote locations, textiles, and tactile sensors or electronic skin. Onorato’s work represents a means to extend OPV lifetimes, a key factor for the commercial feasibility of these devices. His mixed conduction work focuses on better understanding how the material’s chemistry leads to its performance, working towards building higher performing batteries and biosensors with greater sensitivity. His work has resulted in 22 co-authored publications, three as first author, with researchers from several UW CEI lab groups, UCLA, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, and the University of Chicago. Onorato defended his Ph.D. in materials science & engineering at UW in August 2020.
Additionally, Onorato has been an active member of the CEI community as a CEI Graduate Fellow, DIRECT data science trainee, Torrance Tech Due Diligence analyst, Students in Clean Energy officer, and frequent participant in CEI K-12 outreach events. Jon has also mentored countless UW undergraduate and graduate students in the Luscombe group.
Kaiser, a chemistry doctoral student advised by Professor Jun Liu, won the Outreach & Service Award which recognizes UW graduate students who have demonstrated dedication and creativity when communicating STEM to a variety of audiences. Over the past three years, Kaiser has made tremendous contributions to CEI’s K-12 education work. He has led a virtual lunch and learn event for students during the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteered to build countless solar kits for teachers and students, and participated in K-12 outreach events above and beyond the requirements for CEI Graduate Fellows. This past year, he created and facilitated a workshop for the YMCA Environmental Symposium for high school students to improve their energy literacy and introduce them to ideas and pathways for a career in clean energy and climate change prevention. As a member of the Liu group, Kaiser researches self-assembling 2D materials for clean energy. These 2D materials can be integrated with functional organic molecules and assembled into devices with molecular or nanoscale architectures, leading to new properties with potential applications in battery energy storage as well as hydrogen generation and storage.