University of California, Riverside

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Elaine Haberer Earns NSF BRIGE Awards

Elaine Haberer Earns NSF BRIGE Awards

Elaine HabererElaine Haberer has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) highly competitive Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering (BRIGE).  A member of the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Materials Science and Engineering Program, was awarded the grant for her proposal, “An Integrated Research and Education Program for Viral-Templated Type-II Nanostructured Heterojunctions for Photovoltaics.”

The NSF’s BRIGE program offers research initiation grant funding opportunities with the goal of broadening participation to all engineers including members from groups underrepresented in the engineering disciplines. Another goal is to support innovative plans for recruiting and retaining a broad representation of researchers in programs supported by these grants

Haberer’s research interests include bio-templated materials for electronic, optoelectronic and energy applications, nano-structured hybrid materials, and novel top-down and bottom-up assembly techniques. The objective of her BRIGE project is to assemble nanostructured materials and devices with superior electrical transport properties. More specifically, she intends to use viruses to build nanostructured materials for solar cells, which are both highly efficient and affordable, a combination which has been elusive to date.

“There is much to be learned from nature in the area of materials assembly,” Haberer said. “Biomolecules, such as viruses, are capable of building nanostructures which are not possible with conventional synthetic techniques. Such geometries can be very useful in the development of more efficient solar cells.”

Haberer’s BRIGE Award will also provide support for a number of mentoring and outreach activities designed to increase diversity and broaden participation in engineering through coursework, research experience and professional development opportunities. 

Haberer will collaborate with Assistant Professor Marsha Ing from UCR’s Graduate School of Education in co-teaching a service-learning course for both education and engineering undergraduates through the Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) program at UCR. The students will work as a team to develop, teach, assess and redesign lessons in solar energy, which will include “hands-on” experimental activities for students in UCR’s Math Engineering Science and Achievement (MESA) Schools Program. Haberer and Ing will partner with one science club or classroom for each course, offering to cultivate connections between the undergraduates and the MESA student participants.

Haberer joined the EE faculty at BCoE in 2009. She earned her Ph.D. in materials science from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2005 and her M.S. and B.S. in materials science and engineering from MIT in 1998 and 1997, respectively. Her postgraduate research, completed at UCSB, explored viral-based assembly of inorganic materials. In addition to her teaching and outreach experience at MIT and UCSB, she served as coordinator for the California NanoSystems Institute Apprentice Researcher Program, a six-week summer internship program for high school students.

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