"I hope one day I will be able to give back to the community . . . "
Fredrick Omenya's research could be used to create a new generation of batteries that store more energy, charge and discharge faster, and are safer to operate. Already, the work of this fifth-year PhD student in materials chemistry has enhanced the understanding of materials and processes involved in electrochemical energy storage in batteries. His research also has led to a fundamental understanding of olivine, one of today's most important battery materials, says M. Stanley Whittingham, Omenya's advisor and a distinguished professor of chemistry and materials science.
The battery material is used to propel hybrid-electric buses, such as those traveling the streets of Broome County, N.Y., and elsewhere in the world. The material is also used by power systems for utility load leveling.
Doctoral students like Omenya often are actively involved in teaching and coursework during the academic year.
The Clifford E. Myers Summer Research Grant that Omenya received allowed him to focus his time and energy on his research over the summer — instead of worrying about making ends meet.
"It gave me much more time in the lab and allowed me to accomplish more," Omenya says.
Whittingham, also director of the Institute for Materials Research, notes receiving the prestigious grant indicates the level of Omenya's achievements — the grant goes to only one top student each year.
Other grants Omenya received also helped cover research costs and travel expenses to attend a conference.
"As part of my summer research, I was able to complete one part of my project and drafted a paper that just got accepted in the Chemistry of Materials journal," Omenya says. "I hope one day I will be able to give back to the community by helping other students like me achieve their goals and dreams."
Omenya, from Nairobi, Kenya, expects to receive his doctorate this spring.