University of Utah mechanical engineering assistant professor Roseanne Warren and chemical engineering assistant professor Kerry Kelly each have received a National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award for 2020.


Roseanne Warren

Warren is receiving a $500,000 grant for research into developing a process similar to a roll-to-roll printing process to mass produce well-controlled porous materials for lithium-ion batteries. A typical lithium-ion battery cell consists of two porous electrodes (anode and cathode). These electrodes can be produced on a roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high output, but it would be without the necessary precise control over the porous structure of the electrodes. The electrodes must be made with optimal porous structures to increase the battery’s battery cycle life, capacity, and power.

Warren will be looking for new methods of fabricating well-controlled porous materials that are also compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing. One way of possibly doing that is using nanoscale bubbles as templates for porous electrodes, including controlling the concentration and position of the bubbles as a means to control the pore size distribution and create well-aligned pores.

In addition to this research, Warren’s grant will also support the training of graduate and undergraduate student researchers, continuing development of a new nanofabrication graduate course, as well as new opportunities for underrepresented minority groups in STEM, with a focus on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students through collaboration with the University of Utah’s Pacific Islands Studies program.

Warren received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the U’s College of Engineering in 2016. Her research is in new nanomaterial structures and advanced nanofabrication techniques for electrochemical energy storage applications.


Kerry E. Kelly

Kelly has received a $400,000 grant to develop and deploy in northern Utah nanofiber sensor arrays in a network to identify the source or sources of formaldehyde. The low-cost portable sensors, together with advanced analytical techniques, will provide location information to help pinpoint the sources of the pollutants.

Formaldehyde is a key air pollutant and known human carcinogen. Each year, over 25 million Americans are exposed to formaldehyde at levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cancer risk threshold.

The project is similar to another pollution sensor network that Kelly has developed using low-cost sensors that can detect particulate matter in the air. Those sensors, part of a project called AirU, are distributed all over Salt Lake County.

The grant will also be used to help with the further education of STEM students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Kelly has used a similar version of her PM2.5 pollution sensors to help teach Utah K-through-12 students the importance of monitoring air quality.

Kelly received her bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Purdue University, a master’s in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of Utah. She became an assistant professor in 2015 and is also an associate director of the Program for Air Quality, Health and Society at the U. She also received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Environmental Division Early Career Award, which honors those with “outstanding contributions in environmental chemical engineering in the early stages of the recipient’s career.”