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Conn Center Staff

Mahendra Sunkara, PhD

Ernst Hall Room 101
502-852-8619 fax
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Mahendra Sunkara, PhD, is the Director of the Conn Center, where he directs the Center’s research themes, growth, and operations.

He received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering in 1993 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where he focused on Monte-Carlo simulation of diamond nucleation and growth. He holds an MS in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY (1988) and a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Andhra University in Waltair, India (1986). He served as Project Engineer at Faraday Technology Inc. in Dayton OH (1993-1996), focusing on applied electrochemical engineering technology, before joining the faculty at the University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering Department of Chemical Engineering, where he established a research program on advanced materials synthesis and characterization. He was granted tenure in 2002, promoted to full professorship in 2006, and appointed as University Scholar in 2010. He was the Founding Director of the Institute of Advanced Materials and Renewable Energy, and was appointed as the Director of the Conn Center in 2013.

Mahendra is the author/co-author of over 100 original research papers and four book chapters and holds 10 patents in the areas of nanowires and other nanoscale materials toward energy conversion and storage applications. With M. Meyyappan of NASA Ames, he co-wrote the book, “Inorganic Nanowires: Applications, Properties, and Characterization.” Among his awards are a NSF CAREER Award, the IIChE United Phosphorus CHEMCON Award, the 2009 University of Louisville President’s Distinguished Faculty Award in Research and Scholarship, the University Scholar appointment, a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award in Engineering in 1999, and Louisville Magazine’s Top 25 Young Guns distinction. He serves as a regular reviewer for numerous journals including Journal of the American Society, Advanced Materials, Nanotechnology, and Applied Physics Letters and for federal funding agencies including NSF, DOE, and the EPA. He serves on the editorial boards of Nanotechnology and Nanoenergy journals. He also serves on boards of Karuturi Global Ltd (India/Ethiopia/Kenya) and Chemener Batteries Ltd (India). He founded a startup, Advanced Energy Materials, LLC (USA) in 2010.

Mahendra’s primary research is in the development of such renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as solar cells, lithium ion batteries, electrochromics, production of hydrogen from water, and process development for growing large crystals of diamond, gallium nitride, and bulk quantities of nanowires.