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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Professor fuels career with award

    Devinder Mahajan. (Photo Credit: Stony Brook University)

    Devinder Mahajan, PhD, a professor in the Material Science & Engineering Department, Co-Director of the Chemical and Molecular Engineering Program (CME) at Stony Brook who holds an appointment with Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been named a 2011-2012 recipient of the Jefferson Science Fellowship. One of thirteen who have received this honor for 2011-2012, Mahajan is the first recipient from Stony Brook University since the beginning of the program.

    Started in 2003, the Jefferson Science Fellowship is a distinguished program that brings together professors in the science and engineering fields to the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. to advise officials on issues related to current and emerging policies dealing with energy. Mahajan is currently serving his fellowship with the U.S. Department of State Bureau for Energy Resources.

    “In general terms, energy is a global issue. The Energy bureau is working to ensure that we align our diplomacy to ensure energy security for all Americans. However, we want to make sure that our policies are based on sound science and technology – this is where my expertise comes in,” says Mahajan. After completing his one-year fellowship, Mahajan will remain on call for five years as an advisor and resource to the State Department.

    Mahajan’s research at both Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory has assisted in building his career. Mahajan’s research focuses on energy issues linked to the rapid population growth of the world and the rising CO¬2 levels. He says that new and efficient technology will play a role in addressing these types of issues in society.

    While in Washington D.C., Mahajan hopes to familiarize himself on the issues that policy makers are confronted with when making changes to the U.S. Energy Policy. “I came to the State Department with two goals. To provide advice on science and technology matters, as and when needed and in return, learn how policies are made. There is a steep learning curve but I hope to come back with fresh ideas on energy research and development issues.”

    Mahajan’s research centers on extracting “clean” fuels from sources such as methane hydrates and plans to develop low-carbon energy technologies for commercial use. Upon his return, Mahajan intends to develop “courses in energy that will benefit all Stony Brook students [not just Chemical Engineering students].”

    Tadanori Koga, PhD, a professor, fellow researcher and colleague of Mahajan’s in the Chemical and Molecular Engineering Program says he and the entire department are “so proud of our ‘captain.’” Since Mahajan’s appointment to the CME program, Koga refers to Mahajan as “an invaluable asset to the rapid growth of our program through his exceptional leadership.” Koga’s research interest also focuses on the manufacturing and processing of “green” energy through several methods: chemical recycling of waste plastic and, like Mahajan, methane hydrates.

    “I have no doubt that his experience serving the Fellowship will further foster his leading role in the world climate-energy challenges confronting this century” says Koga. “Our CME program will enjoy the benefits of his reputations, [making] our teaching and research environments more inclusive and stronger.”

    Sophomore and CME major Peter Lee is one such student who is looking forward to the new courses to be set in motion by Mahajan. “If possible, I would absolutely take these courses,” says Lee. Lee believes opening the courses for students outside of the Materials Science Department could inspire future scientist and engineers as well as thoughtfully stimulate those students who are already within the Materials Science Department. “To be on the forefront of such technology would not only be worthwhile for knowledge’s sake, but would also give a competitive advantage [for students].“

    Mahajan is scheduled to return for the Fall 2012 semester where he will continue with his research at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University.

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