Kwabena Bediako, campus assistant chemistry professor, was awarded the National Science Foundation, or NSF, CAREER award for his ongoing research and outreach proposal.
The CAREER award is a five-year grant open to assistant professors who are fairly early on in their careers, Bediako noted. This grant will help him and his team continue their work with structural distortions in atomically thin materials, as stated in the NSF award abstract.
“With the solids that we work with, the layers can slide over each other, so it turns out that you can also control how they are twisted to each other,” Bediako said. “Even this twisting effect — the angle that you twist them at can significantly transform how the material behaves.”
Bediako uses electron microscopes at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to observe how atoms shift in order to make arrangements more stable. This work is useful because it could inform the development of the next generation’s technologies in computing and electronic devices, the NSF abstract stated.
Applicants submit a proposal that includes information both on their research and an idea for an outreach program, which is reviewed and scored, according to Bediako. The abstract added that in this way, proposals include efforts to develop more impactful research as well as initiatives that aim to broaden the participation in STEM education and scientific research.
“We proposed to begin a scientific discussions section at Mount Tamalpais College, which is the higher institution at San Quentin State Prison,” he said. “The idea with this is to have a scientific discussion section with the students who happen to be incarcerated there and discuss basic scientific principles and new scientific discoveries.”
Bediako noted that the college has an analogous program for math and that some of his students already volunteer at the San Quentin State Prison. He hopes that the program will generate excitement about the topic among students there.
During the first year of the grant, which goes into effect on April 1, Bediako plans to work with personnel at the prison and college to come up with a plan of how to implement the program. He and his team will continue their research and implement the program in the second year.
“It was encouraging to me and the rest of my group to receive this award,” Bediako said. “It provides funding for us now to carry out this research that we are very excited about and also gives us a few resources to begin the program at San Quentin we’re excited about.”