UC Riverside Researcher Awarded Department of Energy Early Career Grant

Prestigious award will support research on understanding the atomic and electronic properties of materials used in solar cells, batteries and consumer electronics

A photo of Bryan Wong.

Bryan M. Wong, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering and materials science and engineering at UCR.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Bryan M. Wong, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering and materials science and engineering at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, has received a 2016 Early Career Research Program grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Wong will receive $750,000 over the next five years to continue his research on developing new theoretical methods and algorithms to accurately understand the electronic properties of large chemical and material systems.

“The fundamental interactions between electrons and atoms have a profound effect on all materials used in modern technologies, and so understanding and predicting these complex interactions can provide a path forward in improving technologies ranging from light-harvesting solar cells, batteries, and consumer electronics,” Wong explained. “However, our current ability to calculate and predict these interactions is severely limited, even using modern supercomputers, due to the sheer complexity and number of equations that must be solved.”

The early career grant will help change that, supporting a detailed assessment of the importance of many-body quantum effects in large molecules and materials, Wong said.

Dean of the Bourns College of Engineering Reza Abbaschian said Wong’s award supports the college-wide mission to create knowledge in both the fundamental and applied areas of engineering.

“Bryan is an outstanding researcher who understands the value of basic research and also sees the value of translating that research into next-generation materials and technologies. I am very pleased to see him honored with this award and we look forward to supporting him as he continues his work on understanding the properties of technologically important materials,” Abbaschian said.

Prior to joining UCR in 2014, Wong was an assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and a staff scientist at Sandia National Laboratories. He received his B.S. in physics and chemistry from Rice University and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).

Wong was one of 52 scientists from across the nation – including 29 from U.S. universities – selected by the Office of Science to receive significant research funding as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. More than 720 proposals were submitted to the competitive program.

Now in its seventh year, the program supports outstanding researchers early in their careers and stimulates research careers in disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science. A list of the awardees, their institutions, and titles of research projects is available on the Early Career Research Program website.

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