University of Notre Dame Research Symposium 2013

The fifth annual Graduate Student Union Research Symposium offered a new feature this year—postdoctoral recognition and awards.


“The addition of postdoc research to the symposium created an important forum for the exchange of ideas and community building at the University,” says Psychology Professor Laura Carlson, Associate Dean for Professional Development, The Graduate School.


“Including postdocs in this annual event provided those who participated an opportunity to present their research to a broad audience and, for both participants and especially division winners, additional credentials for their vitae,” adds Dr. Mary Sajini Devadas (Advisor: Gregory V. Hartland) a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the postdoctoral representative on the Graduate School’s professional development team who initiated the involvement of postdoctoral research associates in the symposium.

The symposium was held on February 27th in the Great Hall of the Jordan Hall of Science and was supported by the Graduate School and the Office of Research.

Based on review of their abstracts, postdoc participants selected were:

Science Engineering
Dr. Suraj Dev Prakash Dhiman Dr. Amir Paster
Dr. Kat Barger Dr. Benxin Jing
Dr. Monika Vogt Dr. Zheng Xu
Dr. Jasmine Annajothi Jacob Dr. Rajesh Sahadevan
Dr. Yong Cheng Dr. Sonia Antony
Dr. Pralay Kanti Santra Dr. Stephen Powers
Dr. Ganganahalli Ramesha  
Dr. Roberta Engel  

Winners at this year’s postdoctoral research associate competition received certificates and cash prizes of $500 for first-prize entries and $100 for second-prize entries.



1st prize:  Dr. Pralay K. Santra

dr_pralay_santraDr. Santra has been a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Notre Dame’s Radiation Laboratory since March 2011. He is currently working in Prof. Prashant Kamat’s group. Dr. Santra’s research focuses on designing semiconductor nanocrystal assemblies for light energy conversion. He is working on the synthesis of highly luminescent colloidal quantum dots (both doped and undoped). He is also actively pursuing a study involving the photophysical properties of these quantum dots with time-resolved absorption and emission spectroscopy. He has successfully implemented these materials in solar cells and studied different composite QDSC structures to increase the overall power efficiency.

Dr. Pralay received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 2010. His thesis was titled "Investigation of Internal Structure and Growth of Nanoparticles in Bottom Up Approach."


2nd Prize: Dr. Jasmine A. Jacob

dr_jasmine_jacobDr. Jasmine A. Jacob is a postdoctoral research associate in the research group of Prof. David M. Bartels, Radiation Laboratory, University of Notre Dame, arriving in September 2011. Her research project involves radiation-induced corrosion studies and surface-enhanced raman spectroscopic studies of stainless steel. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher from April 2010 through July 2011 with Dr. Jacqueline Belloni at Laboratoire de Chimie Physique, Université-Paris Sud in the frame of the Indo-French exchange Program ARCUS 2008-2011.

Dr. Jacob obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Mumbai in December 2009. Her thesis was titled “Free Radical and Photochemical Reactions on Metal/Semiconductor Nanoparticles and Other Media.”



1st prize:  Dr. Sonia Antony

dr_sonia_antonyDr. Sonia Antony is a postdoctoral research associate in Prof. William Schneider’s group. She works on the computational part of the project titled “Catalytic Transformation of Anthropogenic CO2 to Value-added Products: An Experimental and Computational Approach to Catalyst Design” funded by Sustainable Energy Initiative at Notre Dame. Iridium complexes are used in the carbon dioxide reduction project, and Density Functional Theory (DFT) methods are used to probe the possible reaction pathways, the kinetics of different steps involved, and varying influences on the energy landscape due to different ligands, solvents, etc.   The catalysts used in this study are synthesized and characterized by Prof. Jason Hicks and Dr. Zheng (Karen) Xu, and the surface of the catalyst is analyzed by Prof. Franklin Tao and Dr. Jun-Jun Shan. 

Dr. Antony received her Ph.D. degree in chemistry in May of 2011 from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, where she explored the reaction pathways of the selenium drug Ebselen using Density Functional Theory (DFT).  


2nd prize:  Dr. Benxin Jing

dr_benxin_jingDr. Benxin Jing is a postdoctoral research associate in Prof. Y. Elaine Zhu’s group at the University of Notre Dame in her Interfacial Soft Materials Lab. His major research interest is the study the interaction of model cell membrane with emerging materials, including 0D and 2D nanomaterials, polyoxometalate macroions and ionic liquids, which are believed to be helpful to understand the fundamental process of selective transport of drug/gene across cell membrane and the cytotoxicity of novel materials. Besides, he also works on wastewater treatment by water-soluble polymers and the self-assembly of inorganic/organic hybrid materials used for polymer-ion battery.

Dr. Jing received his undergraduate degree in material science from Zhengzhou University in 2002, his master’s degree in material science from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 2005, and his Ph.D. in polymer physics and chemistry from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Science in 2009.


At the symposium, Dr. Christine Maziar, Acting Dean of the Graduate School and Vice President and Senior Associate Provost, recognized all participants and presented awards.  She was joined by Dr. Maura A Ryan, John Cardinal O'Hara, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Department of Theology and Acting Dean in the College of Arts and Letters and Associate Dean for the Humanities and Faculty Affairs.

Symposium judges were Dr. Richard E. Taylor, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Associate Dean for Research, College of Science; Dr. Brian M. Baker, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Associate Dean of Academic Programs, the Graduate School; Dr. Mark McCready, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Assoicate Dean for Research, College of Engineering; and Dr. Gregory Snider, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of Graduate Studies. 


Pictures from the Symposium


Picture of Winners with the Vice President Dr. Maziar and Dean Ryan