Zhang named outstanding researcher by engineering alumni society


Sulin Zhang, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics and bioengineering, has been named a recipient of the 2016 Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Outstanding Research Award.

Enrique Gomez, Chemical Engineering; Victor Pasco, Electrical Engineering; and Zoubeida Ounaies, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering are the other recipients of the award.

The Outstanding Research Award recognizes and rewards outstanding engineering researchers for accomplishments in advancing the frontiers of knowledge. These research awards are established to confer honor on individuals who, by their contributions to knowledge, have brought recognition to themselves, the college and Penn State. The awardees illustrate the important role that research plays in a comprehensive program of engineering education.

Individuals are nominated by engineering students, faculty, or department heads. Selections are made by a committee, appointed by the dean, which is comprised of PSEAS Executive Board members and the Associate Dean for Research and Administration.

A Penn State faculty member since 2007, Zhang focuses his research on advancing the frontiers in mechanics by interfacing engineering science and mechanics with materials science, chemistry, biology, nanotechnology, and multiple engineering disciplines. He has established wide collaborations with scientists and engineers within Penn State and other universities in these multidisciplinary research topics.

His work has enabled innovations in materials and device design, chemical reaction control, and biological function regulation. His accomplishments include the following developments:

1. A new chemo-mechanical model that predicts the degradation of high-energy-density electrode materials for lithium ion batteries and guides new designs for a new class of mechanical energy harvesters

2. A new coarse-grained model of biological membranes and the extension of this model to a full red blood cell model, which bridges the gap between computational and experimental length and time scales, and enables large-scale simulations of cell-membrane mediated processes and diseases such as Malaria

3. New theoretical, computational, and experimental models that predict optimum nanoparticle size, shape, and surface chemistry for passage through cell membranes into the cell. These models provide firsthand design principles for nanoparticle-based therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

4. New multi-scale models of 2D layered crystals, including carbon nanotubes and graphene, for application in next generation electronic devices

Zhang is a member of the Materials Research Society; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society; the Biophysical Society; and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

His previous awards and honors include the Penn State Graduate School’s Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award (2011), the Penn State Institute for CyberScience Faculty Fellowship (2011), the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award (2007), and the Oak Ridge Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2006).

All PSEAS award winners will be formally recognized and presented with their awards during a reception on April 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

For a full list of 2016 PSEAS award winners, click here.


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Chris Spallino




The Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) is an internationally distinguished department that is recognized for its globally competitive excellence in engineering and scientific accomplishments, research, and educational leadership.

Our Engineering Science program is the official undergraduate honors program of the College of Engineering, attracting the University’s brightest engineering students. We also offer graduate degrees in ESM, engineering mechanics, engineering at the nano-scale, and an integrated undergraduate/graduate program.

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